HAMLET — Melvin Ingram of the San Diego Chargers and Dannell Ellerbe of the New Orleans Saints are coming home to Richmond County Saturday to give back to their community — something both professional athletes place at the top of their priority list several times each year.
From 11 a.m. to 2 p.m. Saturday at Hamlet Memorial Park “Melvin’s Mission” will sponsor a Family Fun Day featuring face painting, door prizes, jumpers, a super slider, rock-climbing walls, a gyroscope and sports arena. Games and food will also be available and everything is free.
Fellow Richmond County pro football player Ellerbe agreed to join this year’s fun and games at Ingram’s invitation, and this year’s event theme is “Together We Stand.”
“For Melvin and Dannell both being from Richmond County, coming home to where they came from is important,” said Maurice McLaurin, director of Hamlet Parks and Recreation. “It’s fun for us when they do, but what impresses me is that it’s important to them that they come back.”
McLaurin said regardless of where Ellerbe is, he stays informed and maintains an interest in the county’s youth and sports.
“From what I know, he’s been a guy who’s a hard worker and has given back to the community,” McLaurin said. “He is very interested in sports around here and in helping kids realize they can reach their goals if they just work hard.”
Hamlet City Manager Marcus Abernethy said he hopes to attend some of the scheduled events.
“It’s certainly an exciting event and an incredible opportunity for these men to give back to their community and we are delighted to host them,” Abernethy said. “Any way that we can assist in the event, we’re delighted to help out. I’d love to meet them sometime. The two of them get all the credit, that’s for sure. We are not involved in planning the event. It’s all them.”
From 5 to 10 p.m. the venue moves to Richmond Senior High School for more competitive fun.
“The basketball tournament later on that day, I’m helping Melvin Ingram out on that one,” McLaurin said. “All of this is for all the youth in Richmond County, the kids.”
The tournament is open to anyone at least 16 years old. Team signups are on a first-come, first-served basis. There will be a 3-on-3 tournament for players from 16 to 18 years old, and a 5-on-5 for ages 19 and up. Admission is free, and food and drinks will be available from the school’s concession stand.
For information, contact Maurice McLaurin at 910-331-0599.
Reach reporter Melonie McLaurin at 910-817-2673 and follow her on Twitter @melonieflomer.