ROANOKE, Va. – Athletes including brothers and friends of Kawuan Ray came together to play flag football on Martin Luther King Jr. Day-- one of many sports that the former Roanoke Catholic and Patrick Henry star excelled at.
“When I heard of the idea I was like, ‘I don’t want to watch I want to go out there and play and have fun’”, said Santez Thomas, the older brother of Kawuan.
Monday’s game was about more than just the love of sport, but rather the love of each other.
Daniel Brooks founded Good Counsel LLC wich offers unique training through its “Motivate The Game” brand.
“We’re a therapeutic training program so what we do is train athletes for football but at the same time we talk about social and emotional wellbeing, we talk about daily stressors and Kawuan’s loss actually came up in one of our sessions,” Brooks said.
That prompted Monday’s flag football event, a way to give back to the community while also providing support through the grieving process.
“I just know how great of a young man he was just by the effect he had on other young people in the community, his teammates, younger brothers and just his friends. I can tell because they all wanted to come out and play today.
Through activities and games between the lines they were helped to see that the grief of such a beloved son, brother and friend--doesn’t have to be there’s alone outside the lines.
“During warmups we did an exercise where we carried a table--the weight of it represented the the grief, the loss. At first someone was carrying it by themselves then everyone came in an helped. So, it’s like we’re all going to carry the weight together, grieve together instead of doing it alone,” said Thomas.
“My brother touched so many people, I just hope my younger siblings get that from him.”
“I want to take over MLK weekend for Kawuan moving forward and just make this all about a community celebrating an amazing life, amazing young man and a man that was great at many sports but also loved a lot of people,” said Brooks.