HAMLET — Melvin Ingram, pro-bowl defensive end for the Los Angeles Chargers and former Richmond Raider, continues to give back to the community that raised him.
On Saturday, Ingram’s Mission Possible Foundation hosted its fifth annual Family Fun Day at Hamlet Memorial Park. A crowd of about 1,000 filled the park which offered a whole new array of activities from previous years, including an obstacle course and field goal kicking challenge, along with Fun Day staples like face painting, a rock wall and gaming truck, where a group of kids stayed rapt in a game of NBA 2K18.
“Some people think NFL players are really ‘high up’ but (Ingram) is a normal guy,” said Daryn Mason, 17, a former player on the Richmond Raiders football team who’s met Ingram previously and is now a staff member for the Fun Day. Mason is a recent graduate of Richmond Senior High School and said he plans to play football at UNC-Chapel Hill in his sophomore year.
“You can tell he really cares about the kids.”
Despite the fact that his name is attached to the event, Ingram said it’s not about him.
“I get out of it what (the kids) get out of it,” the Hamlet native said. “We would’ve died to have something like this growing up.”
Ingram added that he has to be a positive role model for the youth because “there’s so much negative out there.”
Callie Ingram, Melvin’s sister, organizes the event each year.
“It brings everybody together — it brings unity to the community,” she said.
Among the attendees on Saturday was D’Juna Bostick, who brought along eight of her foster children. Bostick said she brings her kids every year because it’s a chance for them to socialize while also learning the value of giving back.
“I think it inspires kids so that when they grow up they will share their blessings,” Bostick said.
Richmond head football coach Bryan Till said that Ingram is an example of the benefits of having a strong work ethic, adding that he makes success at a high-level seem “tangible” to young players.
Suzanne Hudson, who taught both Melvin and Callie Ingram in high school, said he was a good student and had “a lot of personality,” which made him “a little social” during class time. Hudson now helps organize the Fun Day with Callie Ingram and said she is proud of their accomplishments.
“What I’ve seen is them giving back,” Hudson said. “To think of them in high school and see the role they’re playing now — it’s a teacher’s dream.”
Hudson said she’s followed Melvin Ingram’s football career through college and the pros. She and her husband, who’s from San Diego, were ecstatic when the San Diego Chargers selected Ingram with the 18th overall pick of the 2012 NFL Draft, but were “devastated” when the team moved to Los Angeles prior to the 2017 season.
Latora Sturdivant, 11, Zymihr Rogers, 8, and Si’Asia Rogers, 9, of Bennettsville, South Carolina, met Ingram for the first time Saturday and got their T-shirts signed. The only words they could use to describe the experience were “awesome” and “cool.” Their grandmother, Maria Bright, also of Bennettsville, said she brought them out “just to have fun.”
Asked how long he planned to keep the Fun Day going, Ingram said, “Forever.”
Reach Gavin Stone at 910-817-2674 or [email protected]
Melvin Ingram signs 11-year-old Latora Sturdivant’s T-shirt at the Mission Possible Family Fun Day on Saturday at Hamlet Memorial Park.
Tyler Gerald, 14, a rising freshman at Richmond Senior High School, kicks a field goal at the Mission Possible Family Fun Day on Saturday at Hamlet Memorial Park. Gerald said he is going to try out for kicker on the RSHS football team next year.
Darryl Martin III, 3, checks out his face paint, done by Tiffany Pressley with PB&J Entertainment, to look like Leonardo of the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles as his mother, Shantel Easterling, looks on.