Jaguars guards Vince Manuwai and Dennis Norman decided to take their helmets off and open their hearts recently as they paid a visit to the Youth Crisis Center in Jacksonville.The center serves as a shelter to troubled children between the ages of 10 and 17 who are homeless or run-aways.
The visit had even more special meaning for Manuwai. As a young child living in Hawaii, he would occasionally run away from home.
"I never did anything bad when I ran away from home, I just wanted to be with my friends and be able to go to the movies and play video games whenever I wanted too," said Manuwai.
He felt that by being here he could offer the kids some words of encouragement to get them on the right track with their lives.
"These are all good kids. Hopefully by Dennis and me being here we can show them that anything is possible," added Manuwai. "I was a runaway. Nobody thought I was going to get to this point in my life where I am in the NFL, and it happened."
In a relaxed atmosphere, Manuwai and Norman sat and ate lunch with the kids. The two players wanted the kids to loosen up, open up and have an opportunity to eat and hang out with professional football players.
The children got a chance to ask the guys questions that not all children get the privilege to ask.
'What is it like playing with Byron Leftwich? Are you going to win on Sunday? What type of car do you drive?'
After lunch was over, the crew gathered up and played a highly competitive game of foosball. Both players and many of the kids went back forth laughing and high-fiving.
"This was just a wonderful way to spend a Tuesday afternoon," Manuwai added.
The members of the offensive line lend their support to the Youth Crisis Center as a part of the Jaguars Plays for a Purpose program. The organization raises funds through donations made by corporations and individuals based on the number of first downs the Jaguars make during the 2005 season