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Giants Caravan makes a difference


Being introduced in front of a screaming crowd is nothing new for pro athletes. But Tuesday was a little different for three Giants players.

Unaware of what was to come, the students at Dolan Middle School assembled in their auditorium on Tuesday afternoon, becoming louder and louder with anticipation.

Meanwhile, the mystery guests waited in the hallway wearing their jerseys and jeans. Finally, their names were called.

In walked Jake Ballard, Bear Pascoe and Andre Brown to a student body with the decibel level of a home game and the pitch of a Justin Bieber concert.

Brown, who may have found a part-time job as an emcee, pumped up the crowd in Stamford, Conn. while all three helped kickoff the new school year and promote the NFL's Play 60 initiative with The American Heart Association.

"I was just enjoying it," Brown said. "I love being able to just be, I guess, a little bit of an inspiration to somebody. I enjoy my job and I enjoyed just going out here and just talking to people, doing anything I can do to put a smile on a face. That's what I'm about."

Ballard, a second-year tight end, is still getting used to being on the other side as a pro when not too long ago he was looking up to professional athletes like himself.

"When you're little, even the high school athletes in your town are celebrities," he said. "Obviously in college it's like that. It's pretty neat to see all their reactions … It's just different. You don't really realize it. It's still kind of shocking to see their reactions."

Brown had a similar experience.

"In middle school, I would have lost it," said Brown, who ended the assembly with a trivia contest for t-shirts. "When I was little, I used to love guys like Emmitt Smith. If I lived in Dallas and he would have come to my school, I probably would have just dropped dead right there. It would have been surreal. So just getting out there and talking to people and being a positive influence, it's an honor. Being in the NFL is an honor."

As part of the "Back to Football" community blitz, five caravans of Giants players made surprise visits to schools, senior centers and team sponsor locations throughout the tri-state area. Dolan was the second stop for Caravan 2, which began the day at Sunrise Senior Center.

There the running back and two tight ends unloaded reclining chairs from a Bob's Furniture truck to be used for the center's activities room. After they met with the residents, posed for pictures and signed autographs, Pascoe reflected on reaching out to the community on a players day off.

"It kind of gives us a chance to think about something else and get back to why we really do what we do," Pascoe said. "It's good to put smiles on everybody's face and get out and kind of interact with our fans. It's for a great cause. Each time you can help somebody, it's a great thing. We love it."

The third and final stop in Giants legend Andy Robustelli's hometown of Stamford was at a Stop & Shop, where they bagged groceries and handed out complimentary items.

It didn't take long for Pascoe to hop in a motorized Mart Kart and bring it to the entrance for a man who needed it.

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