DALLAS — Hall of Fame running back Emmitt Smith is having a cycling event to raise money for Pat & Emmitt Smith Charities.
The three-time Super Bowl champion for the Dallas Cowboys is hosting a Gran Fondo on Sept. 30 beginning at Rough Riders Stadium in Frisco. There will be a variety of courses available for cyclists of all skill levels.
“We have a 100-mile bike race,” Smith said. “Within that 100-mile bike race, we have a 100k then we have a 45-mile ride. We have a 22-mile ride and we also have a two-mile ride for kids and families.”
The idea for the Gran Fondo, a long-distance cycling event where large groups of riders cycle along a marked route, grew out of a team-building regimen when Smith worked for the Staubach Company.
“They actually inspired me to get a bike and go ride,” said Smith. “So, we started riding about 5:30 in the morning. And before you knew it, it grew from three to four people to about 12 to 14 folks in the office, which turned out to be a good thing because we did a little bonding early in the morning. And everybody came in all enthusiastic and excited and started our day off right. And it just grew from there.”
The money raised from Smith’s Gran Fondo on Sept. 30 will go towards providing underserved youths opportunities to build leadership skills and go on field trips to exciting places unavailable to them, including trips to Congress in Washington, D.C. and the United Nations in New York. The Pat & Emmitt Smith Charities, which has long procured uniforms for students in the Dallas Independent School District, is especially attentive to the needs of families arriving in Dallas due to the displacement from Hurricane Harvey.
Said Smith: “The charity is involved because once Hurricane Harvey concluded we obviously reached out to our donors and some of our volunteers and supporters. And Pat and I contributed some dollars to help J.J. Watt and his program. But at the same time we contributed dollars to start something here in Dallas because we knew it needed to take place. .We got a call from DISD saying ‘We’re getting to 500 to 1,000 kids starting to enroll in Dallas, can you assist us?’ And that’s when we got activated. So, knowing where there is a problem or a need – that’s where we try to step in and fill it.” The #give22 is currently accepting funds to aid families affected by the hurricanes in the Houston-area and Florida.
The Cowboys first round draft selection from 1990 finished his career as the NFL’s all-time leading rusher and career leader in rushing touchdowns. Being a league MVP in 1993 on the most recognizable franchise in all of pro football has given Smith renown that sustains him the spotlight more than 13 years after his last carry. Smith loves being able to use his celebrity to give back to the community.
“Having that type of influence gives you another level of responsibility,” said Smith. “And I think it’s a good thing. I see a lot of other celebrities doing that, which is great. I think from the standpoint of where we all come from because we ended up in a positive position, but we didn’t start from a positive position. A lot of us started behind the 8 ball and had to work our way through the ranks, which is what everybody does a daily basis. So, some of us make it through, and when we make it through we actually want to make sure that someone else has an opportunity to make it through as well.”
With every uniform provided to DISD and every child that gets to see Washington, D.C. or New York City, Smith feels he has saved a part of the world.
“We’ve given hope to the hopeless,” Smith said. “Let’s put it that way in some cases. And I feel extremely good about that because our kids now walk with confidence, not with arrogance, but confidence that they can achieve. They have the brain capacity to achieve in school at the next level. They look forward to what they can learn, and they learn to become leaders versus followers.”
For more information on the Emmitt Smith Gran Fondo cycling event visit http://emmittsmithgranfondo.com/