Tuesday, April 04, 2017

SPORTS STORY >> NFL’s McDonald honors JNP district’s volunteers

Leader sports editor

The most important thing community volunteers should keep in mind is to remain humble. That was the key message from Clinton McDonald when he spoke at the Volunteer Appreciation Breakfast at the Jacksonville Community Center on Tuesday.

The breakfast was sponsored by the Jacksonville-North Pulaski School District in honor of its volunteers.

“You can’t get lost in the sauce,” McDonald, a JHS graduate and Super Bowl winner with the Seattle Seahawks, told the audience of about 100. “It’s easy to say to yourself, look what I’m doing. Look how important I am. We have to remember, it’s not about us. God can knock you down when you’re on top. So it’s important to stay humble. Stay humble spiritually so we don’t lose sight of what’s really important in what we’re doing.”

McDonald, who has been with the Tampa Bay Buccaneers the last three seasons since starting at nose guard for the Seahawks in Super Bowl XLVIII, explained in more detail how the idiom “lost in the sauce” is pertinent to him.

“Being in the NFL and having that lifestyle available to you, with the money and all that, it’s something that’s worse than just being lost,” McDonald told The Leader after the speech. “If you’re lost, you can find your way back. When you’re lost in the sauce, you’ve created your own world and told yourself, I belong here; I deserve this. And it’s harder to come back from because it’s a different reality.”

McDonald has been Jacksonville’s preeminent volunteer since becoming an NFL player. This Saturday he will host his annual Iron Sharpens Iron Youth Football and Cheerleading Camp at Jacksonville High’s Jan Crow Stadium. The day before, he will host Family Fun Day at the Jacksonville Boys and Girls Club.

His foundation, McDonald Association Collective Collaboration-Light Into Darkness, or MACCLID, does lots of other volunteer work and fundraising for different organizations such as Care Channel and Ronald McDonald House.

McDonald noted the volunteers that helped his family and friends during his childhood, some of the same people in attendance Tuesday morning.

“I can remember the free lunches at Mt. Pisgah and the free lunches at the Boys and Girls Club,” McDonald said. “I remember the reading programs. When I got older I realized the importance of those things and the positive impact they had on my life.”

McDonald singled out neighbor Ron McDaniel, who has been an active volunteer in Jacksonville for many years, and is now on the JNP school board, for having the right frame of mind to be a volunteer.

“I grew up next to Mr. McDaniel,” McDonald said. “He was always asking me about my grades. Even coming home from college, he’d want to know how things are going. I’d say things are good with football and stuff like that. He’d say, no, I mean your grades.”

McDonald later tied it together.

“(Volunteering) is not about showing them what’s now, but what’s next,” McDonald said. “Helping them see the ability in themselves to rise above whatever circumstances has them down at that time; showing them avenues and teaching them the tools to make things better.”

After the speech, McDonald went to the Ronald McDonald House, where MACCLID partnered with Baskets of Hope, an outreach group based in St. Louis, to give gift baskets to patients and families.