By Jon Stout
CARY, N.C. — Former Tarboro High School and UNC-Chapel Hill standout running back Shaun Draughn is paying it forward in his home state.
The recently signed New York Giants tailback held his inaugural celebrity-bowling event Friday afternoon in Cary at Frank Theatres CineBowl & Grille on behalf of the Draughn Family Foundation to raise funds for local middle and high school students.
Friends, fans and a variety of current and former National Football League players attended the fundraiser.
Draughn said he and his wife, Shonda, knew they wanted to create a fundraising event, but weren’t exactly sure what direction was the best fit. The couple enlisted the help of Sherrie Handrinos, president and owner of Boost 1 Marketing.
”Sherrie said she’s done this a couple times and said it was a success,” Draughn said. “We sold out the first one, so we’re excited about it and we’re hoping to do another next year.”
Entry into the bowling event cost $50, and live and silent auctions were also held Friday night with proceeds going toward the foundation’s cause.
The Draughns recently launched the family’s foundation, which focuses on helping middle and high school students thrive scholastically and in real-world situations.
“[It] allows them exposure to things they might not otherwise have exposure, whether that’s life skills, how to dress for an interview, some financial literacy,” Draughn said. “Things of that nature where you try and find a gap where schools are not filling that void for these students, and to get them prepared for it. I think that’s a huge thing that’s missing.”
Draughn’s guests Friday night included former Tarboro and University of Georgia star running back Todd Gurley. The 2015 NFL Offensive Rookie of the Year and Pro Bowler is in town for his inaugural football camp, which he will host in Tarboro on Saturday.
“It kind of timed out perfectly,” Gurley said. “It’s a good little event, and I like what he’s doing. It’s always a good thing get back and come back home.”
Aside from the obvious Tarboro bond, Gurley said his relationship with Draughn started during UNC’s recruiting efforts but have been more localized the last two seasons as NFC West Division rivals.
“He’s been in San Fran the last two years, so we play each other twice a year,” Gurley said. “Being able to see him do his thing and me being able to do mine on the other side; it’s been cool.”
The Tarboro boys will no longer play twice a year since Draughn singed a one-year deal on March 21 with New York, but they will meet once next season at MetLife Stadium in East Rutherford, N.J.
Draughn entered the league as an undrafted rookie free agent with the Washington Redskins after being passed over in the 2011 NFL Draft.
The former Tar Heel has also spent time with the Kansas City Chiefs, Baltimore Ravens, Indianapolis Colts, Chicago Bears, San Diego Chargers, Cleveland Browns and San Francisco 49ers.
Retired NFL running back Willie Parker – an alumnus of Clinton High School and North Carolina – attended the event, along with former NC State linebacker Steven Tulloch and Duke quarterback Thad Lewis.
Three of Draughn’s former San Francisco teammates also made appearances: wide receiver Torrey Smith, defensive end Eli Harold and defensive tackle Mike Purcell. Former Atlanta Falcons and Houston Texans linebacker Akeem Dent was also in attendance.
“Everybody has their own thing, especially [at the] end of the season. You just want to unwind, take care of your body and work out,” Draughn said. “For them to come and take time out of their busy schedules to come and support me, it’s humbling. All those guys, I’ve got a good relationship with, and I’m just happy they’re here.”
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