AUSTIN, Texas — Putting some of the best NFL players on the field at the same time is usually called the Pro Bowl. But that wasn’t the reason some of the top guys in the league were in Austin recently. The likes of Deshaun Watson, Kyle Pitts, Jalen Ramsey, Isaiah Simmons and Justin Fields to name a few, were all together for a week, working out, having fun and giving back.
“It’s just rare to find this much talent in one location anywhere,” said NFL defensive lineman Alex Okafor.
Most of the players participating are linked together by their agent, David Mulugheta, and trainer, Jeremy Hills. They’ve started this annual event to gather this group in the summer before they head off to training camp. They spent their mornings working out at Hills’ Kollective gym, and then getting on the field at the turf facility at Del Valle.
“Talking ball, talking life, talking business, all types of things. It’s been a good experience,” said NFL safety Kenny Vaccarro.
The cap-off to the week was a kids camp held at the Pfield in Pflugerville. A big gathering of youngsters got to come out and learn from the best guys in the game. The proceeds from that camp helped some local causes.
“When everybody heard what this was for, they were all on board. Guys switched schedules around just to be here,” said Hills. “It speaks to the family first mentality we’ve built around this place.”
One of the main benefactors of the week was the foundation set up by one of the guys participating, Alex Okafor. Okafor lost his mother, Sonia Alexander-Okafor, in May of 2020 to acute myeloid leukemia. She was just 59 years old.
“She was everything to us and not one day goes by without me thinking about her,” said Okafor
To honor her legacy, the Alex Okafor Family Foundation was set up. Its mission is to offer scholarships to blood cancer survivors who are attending college.
“I know how my life was affected, how my family’s life was affected, so I can’t imagine all the kids going through AML,” said Okafor. “So I just feel for them, through that pain and through that trauma. That is what I’m trying to build this foundation on.”
That foundation got a big boost last weekend with a $20,000 donation thanks to the Pro Stars football camp that was held.
“Just to have the support of all these guys flying to town, participate in the camp and raise this money, it just shows the type of family we are,” said Okafor.
“I think he feels he owes it to his mom, that’s what she wanted,” said Kenny Vaccarro, a former teammate and longtime friend of Okafor. “I think he wants to carry on that legacy. It’s special and I’ll always be here for him.”
The foundation is still in its early phases and it’s something that Okafor hopes to build over the years and continue on with the lessons he learned from his mother.
“I’m blessed to be where I’m at, blessed she instilled the values she did in me,” said Okafor. “Everything I do from this point on is to remember her, to dedicate to her and live life the right way for her.”