Special to the Press-Herald
SPRINGHILL – Despite Saturday’s heat, well over 100 children showed up at the North Webster Knights’ Baucum-Farrar Stadium to participate in the second edition of the “No Dream is Too Big” football camp, hosted by Kansas City Chiefs running back Charcandrick West.
Lovingly referred to as “Moosey” by his family and friends, West’s dashing smile and humble demeanor continue to hold the hearts of this community.
“You know me, I love everybody,” said West, as three children ran around him playfully waiting to have their photo taken. “This camp is just something I wanted to do to show the kids that I care, and that I want to see them reach their dreams. It’s a way for me to give back to my community.”
It is the same community that cheered him on as his skills developed under the instruction of his peewee coach Dante Coleman. The same community that prayed for West and his family during his years as a Springhill Lumberjack battling juvenile rheumatoid arthritis, a harrowing ordeal that still has implications to this day. The community that shared his training camp videos and highlights over social media during his time at Abilene Christian University in Texas, and the same community that listened breathlessly to the 2014 NFL Draft just waiting to hear his name called out.
West went from undrafted free agent, to practice squad player, to NFL starter in just 17 months.
“His story gave me something to look up to,” former North Webster Knight and current standout LSU linebacker Devin White said. “Just like I want my story to be something for these kids here to look up to.”
White was just one of many who showed up to help with the camp. Also in attendance was University of Houston defensive back Darius “Doonie” Gilbert, the coaches from North Webster High School and a slew of West’s family and friends.
Toccara Ford, West’s stepdad, was front and center at the event earning himself a round of applause and a few chuckles, when he took the opportunity to show his son that “Pops still got it” in a game of tug-of-war.
“We’re a close knit family and we just feed off each other,” said Ford. “Family is the key to everything. Even when you branch out you never forget where you came from, you come back and water the roots. Which is what Moosey is doing, and you can tell by the smile on his face that he loves it.”
As a former defensive tackle for the Springhill Lumberjacks, Ford dominated the field and is definitely no stranger to athletics. In addition to coaching and pushing West toward his dreams of football stardom, Ford and his wife Demetrice are raising more children to be ‘beasts’ in their own fields of competition.
“My daughter Paradise is a State Champion in the 4×100, 4×200,” said Ford. “My wife and I push all of our kids to do their best, whether it’s on the field, the track, the court, or in the classroom.”
West and his family are already looking forward to next year’s camp, and are anticipating it to be bigger and better than ever.
“Even long after I’m done playing football, I want to keep doing this for the kids.” said West. “To keep inspiring them and just let them know, like the shirt says, no dream is too big.”