With training camps just around the corner, Carolina Panther Jonathan Stewart still found the time to give back to his community.
The 5’10’’, 230 pound running back returned to Lacey, Washington this past weekend to host his third annual football camp at South Sound Stadium. This free two-day event gathered roughly 300 boys and girls from the ages of 7 through 18. It was the first year that the older kids (15-18) were admitted to the camp.
The 2005 Timberline alumnus was Washington’s all-time leading prep rusher, totaling a staggering 7,755 yards throughout his high school career.
Stewart was taken with the thirteenth pick during the first round of the 2008 NFL draft. His four years with the Panthers have been successful, amassing 3,500 rushing yards and 26 touchdowns. Stewart commented on the passage of time with the Panthers.
“[It’s gone] quick. I’m already going into my fifth year,” Stewart said. “It’s been cool. We’ve had our ups and downs. My first year was really successful as a team. Having that hunger the last three years of wanting to get back to that playoff feeling. I think we’re finally there”
Joining Stewart in his weekend festivities were two teammates, running back Josh Vaughan, and quarterback Derek Anderson. Also present were Seattle Seahawks’ defensive back Walter Thurmond III, Houston Texans’ running back Justin Forsett, Pittsburgh Steelers’ wide receiver Kenny Moore, and Buffalo Bills’ defensive back Jairus Byrd. Coaches Nick Mullen and Bill Beattie from Timberline and Olympia respectively attended as well.
Stewart, who currently resides in Charlotte, N.C., over 2000 miles away from Washington, has high hopes for the football event, which works with South Sound YMCA camp in providing opportunities for the less fortunate youth.
“Eventually, I hope to use all this grass [behind South Sound Stadium and Chinook Middle School], and having it open to more kids in Tacoma and maybe even Seattle,” Stewart added. “Just giving back and having things accessible to kids to better themselves as athletes, people, having the hands-on experience with athletes. … When I was younger, I didn’t have anything like this. Everything was up in Seattle with the Seahawks. Since this is where I’m from, to be able to have this platform, it only makes sense to make it as big as possible. I’m only here a certain amount of time on Earth. My legacy has to go on somehow and this is what I want. I want my legacy to be this football camp.”
By Cheri Cheng