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Bryan Hudnell | Staff Writer

Life can be difficult in many different ways and just having a friend can mean everything. The football team does just that by reaching out to kids through what they call the Buddy Program.

The Buddy Program has been in place for six years. The program pairs a player and a child together and they meet with each other every Wednesday at the Mason Intermediate School.

Defensive Coordinator Barak Faulk is in charge of assigning players in the program. Faulk believes that the Buddy Program offers an incredible chance for players to build character.

“Everything you learn from football from waking up early, setting a program, (lifting) weights,  all of that, leads to a good character,” Faulk said. “This just gives us a whole different world in helping a kid for whatever the reason. I believe it’s been one of the foundations of what we’re about.”

The kids ushered into the buddy program have tough backgrounds and experience adverse circumstances. These circumstances include a death of a family member, a divorce, or struggling in school. Faulk said these kids endure all those and more.

“These are tough stories: stories that make you want to cry,” Faulk said. “I know one kid lost his father and needed someone to be there for him. Most of them have real hardship, cases of loss in the family, or they have a hard time in school.”

The players get the opportunity to be a role model for young students.. They hang out with them, listen to them, help them with homework: anything the kids need, the players are there for them. Senior kicker Andrew Hauer recognized this when he volunteered to participate in the program last year.

“It was all about connecting with the kids who have less than you do,” Hauer said. “Just seeing how much you can help them by seeing them once a week and getting them to do their homework and stuff like that, you get to see how much it can change their outlook on life and how positive they are throughout the day.”

Hauer was one of the 20+ players involved in the program last year. Hauer said he learned a lot from being around someone with a different background.

“They have a lot less than I do and just to see a different perspective on life gets you thinking and makes you reflect on your own life and what you can do for others,” Hauer said.

Senior Alex King made it a priority to see his buddy whenever he could. King’s buddy was from Haiti and had a hard time adjusting to life in America.

“I decided to stay committed and I tried to see him every day,” King said. “He’s a special kid, but he was just going through a hard time in his life and I wanted to be there for him.”

The Buddy Program has impacted the lives of not just the kids in the program, but also the players involved. Faulk said the program is mutually beneficial and that there are lessons to be learned for both the kids and players.

“One of the players told me that this has been better for him than his kid,” Faulk said. “It makes you feel good reaching out to people and seeing the impact that the program has on not only the kids, but the players as well.”

The Buddy Program has already formed more relationships this year as the program began September 14. Faulk is excited for another year of the program and believes great lessons can be learned.

“When you go out and forget about yourself and help somebody else, man that’s when you grow as a person,” Faulk said.

As seen in: Volume 14, issue 1 of The Chronicle

Also Check out the article on the CSPN: http://thecspn.com/?p=39852

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