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February 20, 2012Marlin Lane spent some time in his hometown Boys and Girl Club as a youth and well remembers what it was like to have someone to view as a role model.
Brent Brewer and Michael Palardy weren't involved in the Club as youths, but they nonetheless had strong figures that offered them positive examples.
"When I was little, I wanted somebody around me like that I looked up to keep a smile on my face," said Lane, a sophomore tailback from Daytona Beach, Fla. "Keep me moving with positive things and stuff."
Added Palardy, "I didn't grow up in it, but I was always around. I knew a lot of people worked and knew a lot of kids growing up who were a part of it. I know about it. It's heartwarming. It's not every day that these kids get to come in here, or a place that they grow up, with the team they grow up watching and have them come and help them. Have a good time with them. A place where they can get away, kick and punt and pass and do all these kinds of things that not a lot of people get to do. It's a great feeling."
And Tyler Bray? Well, Tennessee's rising junior quarterback participated in the Boys and Girls Club's Punt, Pass and Kick competition as a youth, not surprisingly advancing in the competition.
"I didn't know this was for the Punt, Pass and Kick," Bray said Monday morning inside Tennessee's Neyland-Thompson Sports Complex, where more than 100 Knoxville-area kids signed up for the event. "I made it all the way to the Raiders-Jets game when I did this. I finished fourth."
Dozens of boys and girls, elementary through middle school, darted like minnows across UT's indoor practice facility Monday at the annual event.
"The Punt, Pass & Kick event is really a benefit for all involved," said Josh Pate, a representative from UT's esteemed Partners in Sports program that has helped host the event for the past eight years. "It is a wonderful opportunity for the kids with the Boys & Girls Club to get on a college campus and have fun with a great group of college students and student-athletes, and it is great for our students because it gives them a service project for a local organization.
"This is just one of the events that Partners in Sports manages throughout the year, and it always gets positive reviews due to the level of hands-on work for each volunteer."
The reviews were evident on the faces of the hundred or so kids who participated in Monday's event as they kicked with the Vols' quarterback Bray and caught passes from the team's placekicker, Palardy. Bray even hoisted a couple of the children well above his head, posed for photos, signed several footballs and even took the time to playfully chide one youth who vowed to a television camera he was going to be a star power forward in basketball.
"Hey, this is a football event," Bray joked.
Though he is rehabbing a surgically repaired ACL tear, Brewer logged as much time as any Vols player with the kids.
"I just wanted to come out here, and once I heard it was a thing for the Boys and Girl Club, I wanted to come and give back to the community," said Brewer, who cited his father as a strong role model growing up. "Just help give them the opportunity to see the facilities and help them experience things they've never gotten to do before.
"I didn't grow up in the Boys and Girls Club, but all during (Minor League) baseball, we worked Boys and Girls Clubs during the four years I was playing. It was always fun."