On the afternoon of Monday, November 6, 2023, the Baltimore Ravens and partner GEHA (Government Employees Health Association, Inc.) held a lively event at the Navy-Marine Corps Memorial Stadium, located in Annapolis, Maryland. The Baltimore Ravens’ annual Youth Football and Military Combine allowed children to become stars on the turf, while experiencing NFL-style football drills with a military twist.

“Teamwork!” energetic participants screamed after the blow of a whistle.

GEHA, which is headquartered in Lee’s Summit, Missouri, is a nonprofit member association that provides medical and dental benefits to federal employees and retirees, military retirees and their families. 

The NFL’s Salute to Service and PLAY 60 campaigns also had a crucial role in the recent event.

“Salute to Service represents the NFL’s unwavering dedication to honoring, empowering, and connecting with our nation’s service members, veterans and their families,” said Charlie Kirksey, Vice President of Sales at GEHA. 

He also stated that for more than 15 years, the NFL PLAY 60 initiative has been the League’s national Youth Health and Wellness platform to empower youth to get physically active for at least 60 minutes a day and encourage a healthy lifestyle. 

A participant runs Ravens-style football drills during the Baltimore Ravens Youth Football and Military Combine, sponsored by GEHA, on Monday, November 6, 2023, at Navy-Marine Corps Memorial Stadium in Annapolis, Maryland.
Photo credit: the Baltimore Ravens

Young people had fun making memories on the heels of the Ravens win against the Seattle Seahawks on Sunday, November 5, 2023.

There was no shortage of smiles or the Ravens purple color. Players helped to lead participants while emphasizing the importance of physical activity in their everyday lives.

“Ravens players, including running backs Keaton Mitchell and Owen Wright, tight end Travis Vokolek, offensive tackle Morgan Moses and wide receiver Laquon Treadwell, joined the Baltimore Ravens mascot, Poe, and the Ravens lead football instructor Tom LaNeve to help lead youth participants,” Kirksey said.

He added, “About 150 children from the DMV area showed up to participate. Most of the kids have family members who are serving in the military or have in the past.”

According to Kirksey, pre-registered youth participants were ages five to 15. The Ravens reportedly extended invitations to local community groups within the team’s database. They previously participated in a Ravens-led event or have inquired about participation. Invitations were also shared by word of mouth.

The event added a dash or giving back monetarily.

GEHA committed to supporting military families with donations that consisted of Folds of Honor, Dolly Parton’s Imagination Library and Tragedy Assistance Program for Survivors (TAPS). During the event, each nonprofit received a check from GEHA for $10,000 to support military families.

GEHA’s philanthropic focus is on health equity, particularly around the unique needs of military veterans and their families. Support includes: mental health and suicide prevention; oral healthcare; art therapy; transitional and permanent housing; substance abuse recovery; services for the caregivers of military families; and other support has been provided.  

Kirksey also said, “The $30,000 donation ($10,000 going to each organization separately) will have a significant impact on Folds of Honor, Dolly Parton’s Imagination Library and the Tragedy Assistance Program for Survivors (TAPS), specifically benefiting military families. This contribution will help these organizations continue their invaluable work in providing support, education, and assistance to those who have served and their loved ones. The funds will directly contribute to enhancing the lives of military families, ensuring that they receive the care and resources they deserve.”

Kirksey also explained that Folds of Honor provides scholarships to the spouses and children of America’s fallen or disabled military. Recipients, chosen from the DMV area, each are provided with a $5,000 scholarship toward their education.

Another recipient, The Dolly Parton Imagination Library of Annapolis, Maryland promotes early education and reading by providing one free book per month to all enrolled children from birth to age five. 

“This $10,000 gift is focused on expanding the program to impact families at the U.S. Naval Academy and Fort Meade,” Kirksey said.

TAPS provides comprehensive care and mental health support services to those grieving the death of a military or veteran loved one. The $10,000 gift will go directly toward survivor programs.

Kirksey further stated that GEHA is consciously giving grant support to a critical market that intersects with their members.

“GEHA is dedicated to its community’s health and wellness, not just in November, but every day,” Kirksey said. 

For more information about GEHA’s community involvement, visit https://www.geha.com/en/why-geha/our-story/commitment-to-our-community

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