This past Saturday, I got to spend a special day with Michael Vick and two members of our Football Night in America staff, Dan Patrick and Peter King. We visited Avon Park Correctional Institution in the morning. In the evening, we attended a fundraiser for Abe Brown Ministries (ABM) which is the organization that runs the prison outreach. Over the last 15 years I have made many visits with Abe Brown Ministries. I really wanted to take these three guys because of the great impact their lives have had on the young men in some of the prisons I’ve visited. Michael’s case is pretty obvious, but I told Dan and Peter they might be surprised by how much these inmates hear them on the radio and read their columns in Sports Illustrated.
We had to leave Tampa at 6:00 am to get to Avon Park, get cleared through security and start our program. Even before the actual event began, we had a chance to visit with many of the guys informally. That was a lot of fun. Mike got a lot of advice from the residents on how to make the Eagles a better team next year, and we got advice on how we could make our show a little better. Then it was our turn. More than anything else, we gave several hundred men encouragement. Michael talked about his time in Leavenworth. He shared how there had been many times where he felt like giving up, but he just kept thinking about making things better for himself and his family when he got out. He talked about preparing himself for a second chance—if it ever came—and how he felt God used the two years he spent in prison to make him evaluate his life and what he needed to do differently.
It was a great morning for the men, but it was a good morning for us as well. I know our volunteers at ABM really appreciated those three guys taking time out of their schedules, and I’m sure the inmates appreciated it too.
We had a two hour drive back to Tampa, time for a short nap, and then we all went to Higgins Hall to take part in a fundraiser for the ministry. Michael was again the highlight of the evening, but the crowd got to hear from Peter also about what it was like to go into a correctional facility. The big emphasis was telling the people how Abe Brown Ministries looks to help inmates by not only sharing the gospel, but they also help with training and re-entry efforts. As I said, it was a great day and I’m very grateful to Mike, Dan and Peter for helping to make it so memorable.