Community Highlights

First and Ten Highlights - Celebrating 10 volunteers to honor 10th-year anniversary of Browns Adapted Football League

Aug-Top10-Highlights-2020

This summer we celebrate the 10th Year Anniversary of the Cleveland Browns Adapted Football League. The league is able to exist because of a group of remarkable volunteers. In honor of the 10th Year Anniversary, we are proud to recognize 10 outstanding volunteers.

Every month we will highlight the top 10 stories from fans, youth football coaches, and teachers just like you who are serving in the community! Remember to take the First and Ten pledge and use hashtag "#give10" or submit your story online when you volunteer for an opportunity to be featured next month!

Name: David Weiss

Hometown: Brookpark

Years Volunteered: 7

Why do you volunteer with the Adapted Football League:

Mr. Weiss volunteers with the Adapted Football League (AFL) because he loves seeing the athletes get the opportunity to gain and use football skills, and most importantly gain a sense of community with the other athletes and volunteers. The enthusiasm of the athletes and their families is tremendous and brings him back annually.   

David is a football coach in the Berea City Schools, and the opportunity to involve his student/athletes and coaches for the last 5 years with the AFL athletes has been an amazing experience. David believes volunteering with the AFL has made them better teammates and even better citizens. He always feels energized and that the time has been well spent after a Saturday with the AFL athletes, families, and other volunteers.

Message to future Adapted Football League volunteers (#give10):

"I would tell anyone interested in volunteering to "JUST DO IT!" It is fun, you will be love the relationships you develop with the athletes, and being around the adapted athletes will inspire you."

Name: James Jackson

Hometown: Middleburg Heights

Years Volunteered: 10

Why do you volunteer with the Adapted Football League:

Ten years ago Mike Urban, Achievement Centers for Children Manager of Sports Services, approached area high school football coaches with a community service opportunity for high school coaches & their players. At the time Coach James was the Head Football Coach at Independence High School. Coach James felt that this would be a great opportunity for himself & his players to give back to the community & share their love for football. As it turns out, they gained a tremendous amount from volunteering. On top of the great feeling you get from helping others, the effort & enthusiasm that the AFL players would display every week was contagious and inspiring! The AFL athletes always gave 100% and they loved to be challenged! 

By volunteering with the AFL, Coach Jackson said that he has been able to established lifelong relationships with the players, their families & other volunteers.

Coach Jackson believes it has been great working with the Cleveland Browns organization. The generosity of the Brown's staff and players dedicating their time and facilities has made this a great experience for all involved!

Message to future Adapted Football League volunteers (#give10):

"Your life will be enhanced by enhancing someone else's life!"

Name: Jeff Sinko

Hometown: Brunswick

Years Volunteered: 10

Why do you volunteer with the Adapted Football League:

Since his first season volunteering with Mike Urban and all of the athletes, Jeff and his wife knew instantly that this program was something they wanted to be apart for as long as they could help. The joy they experience every season with the athletes and their families faces after making a tackle, catch, or even a touchdown, will make you want you want to come back year after year. It's been Jeff's pleasure to watch many of the athletes grow to be such great adults since 2011, and he can only hope he and his wife have a chance to coach them and other athletes for another ten seasons.

Message to future Adapted Football League volunteers (#give10):

"Watch the joy in everyone's faces. Not only do the athletes love coming every Saturday, but so have the volunteers. Since this program started, I have heard year after year from new volunteers how they wished that they knew about this program sooner, since it brings so much happiness and accomplishment to their lives."

"I would also like to point out that the program that Mike Urban has put together since day one continues to get bigger and better each year. Now working with Mike for all ten seasons, I know how much compassion and hard work he puts on behind the scenes before we even take the first snap of the season to make sure everything goes as smoothly as it does. We have all been lucky to have such a great person running this program."

Name: John Gannon

Hometown: Shaker Heights

Years Volunteered: 10

Why do you volunteer with the Adapted Football League:

John and his family have coached in the Adapted Football League since it was formed. It has been a very rewarding experience. The players are so engaged in playing and it has been tremendous to help the players to have a positive experience playing football. The League accommodates players of all ages and capabilities and are so enthusiastic about having the chance to play football. 

Message to future Adapted Football League volunteers (#give10):

"The Adapted Football League offers one of the most rewarding activities a volunteer will find. The League is run by Mike Urban who offers tremendous leadership and the sponsorship of the Cleveland Browns has allowed this League to develop into an outstanding volunteer opportunity."

Name: Lexi Rohrbach

Hometown: Lakewood

Years Volunteered: 7

Why do you volunteer with the Adapted Football League:

Lexi got involved with the Adapted Football League when she interned in the Adapted Sports department while she was in college. Lexi stayed on as a volunteer because she believes it is such a unique program that gives children and adults with disabilities a chance to be a part of a team when they can't participate in the typical team setting due to their disabilities.

Message to future Adapted Football League volunteers (#give10):

"If you are interested in volunteering with the Adapted Football League, I would say do it! You will love every second of it and you will build great relationships with the players that you never knew you needed in your life. This is a very rewarding experience for all involved. "

Name: Matt Novak

Hometown: Berea

Years Volunteered: 9

Why do you volunteer with the Adapted Football League:

Matt feels it has been an amazing opportunity to give back and bring joy to the AFL athletes. He has tons of fun and has the opportunity to be active and help the athletes learn and grow.  Matt is thankful that there's a program like this to give children and adults with disabilities a chance to learn and enjoy the game of football.

Message to future Adapted Football League volunteers (#give10):

"Go for it! If you're looking for a way to give back then this is definitely an amazing program to help with. Seeing the joy on the kids faces is such an awesome reward."

Name: Nicole Zillich

Hometown: Seven Hills

Years Volunteered: 5

Why do you volunteer with the Adapted Football League:

Nicole volunteers with the AFL to continue to provide support and opportunities for kids with special needs. She previously worked at camp cheerful and through volunteering she was able to continue building those relationships and watch the athletes grow through sports. She especially enjoys the touchdown dances when the athletes score!

Message to future Adapted Football League volunteers (#give10):

"All are welcome and the atmosphere is contagious! Adapted Football League allows everyone involved to be themselves and break down barriers by allowing all to participate no matter what their abilities might be. It's a time to have fun and build new friendships. Once you join, you'll be back every season!"

Name: Ronnie Grissman

Hometown: Valley View

Years Volunteered: 7

Why do you volunteer with the Adapted Football League:

Ronnie has a personal connection to the AFL. Ronnie's son is an Adapted Football League athlete. She began volunteering to assist her son and because she loves all of the athletes. 

Message to future Adapted Football League volunteers (#give10):

"Future volunteers, just to see these kids smile is amazing and plus to see them grow year after year is pretty cool."

Name: Violet Cashman

Hometown: Parma Heights

Years Volunteered: 6

Why do you volunteer with the Adapted Football League:

Violet states "That's easy, I love coaching and playing football on Saturday mornings with other amazing athletes who share the same passion and mostly, I enjoy watching players make ESPN highlights and to see them making phenomenal throws, catches, unbelievable football moves and to see the athletes smile at the end of a play and cheering for one another makes my heart full." Violet feels that it is easy to create a bond with the players and volunteers and that's why she comes back each year!

Message to future Adapted Football League volunteers (#give10):

"I challenge anyone who might be interested in volunteering to come out one Saturday morning. I guarantee you'll come back the following Saturday! That's what happened to me. Now I'm going into my 6th season!"

Name: Tony Shuman

Hometown: Parma

Years Volunteered: 8

Why do you volunteer with the Adapted Football League:

Tony has taught at Padua Franciscan High School for twenty-one years. He coached football for the Bruins for twenty years (ten years as Head Coach). Mike Urban would speak at coaching clinics about the Adapted Football League. He is a dynamic person with great vision and it was apparent to Tony that this league was going to be very successful right from the start. As Mike came to speak the first few times, Tony was impressed and wanted to get involved, however, he was just "too busy" to give up some time on the weekends.

After the first two seasons of adapted football came and went, Tony heard so many positive stories from others including the experience of a close family friend. That's when he decided that he was going to make the time to get involved. From that moment forward, being a part of the Adapted Football League has become a priority for Tony, his wife Kammy, son Anthony and daughter Elizabeth. The Adapted Football League means so much to his entire family and they feel blessed to be a part of it and fortunate to have gained so many friends from our involvement.

Many members of the Padua Franciscan community (football players, coaches, parents, teachers, and students) have also been very involved over the years. Not only does Tony and his family look forward to every Saturday during the AFL season, but they have also had the opportunity to be a part of wheelchair football and basketball events.

Message to future Adapted Football League volunteers (#give10):

"Mike Urban and the Achievement Centers for Children Adapted Sports program along with the Cleveland Browns all should be commended for putting together a first class program. During the first two years that I didn't volunteer I used to think I was just too busy to give up some of my time. Now, I couldn't imagine missing out on one minute of working with the incredible athletes in the Adapted Football League. Football brings us all together and the excitement, energy, and enthusiasm in the Adapted Football League is second to none. If someone is looking for an opportunity to give back as a volunteer or wanting to be a part of a wonderful community that feels like family, I challenge them to make the time to volunteer for just one Saturday during the AFL season. Once a new volunteer has the opportunity to assist an AFL athlete, it's my belief that they will be hooked and they will keep coming back to be a part of the outstanding achievements that take place all season long!"

"Working with the AFL also made me aware of the Browns #give10 program and the outstanding community involvement. Not only do the Browns promote community involvement but they also roll up their sleeves as an organization and get out and involved in Northeast Ohio looking to make it a better place!" – Tony Shuman

For more information on the Cleveland Browns Adapted Football League, please visit here.

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