Nashville’s Music City NFL Alumni Chapter

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Have you ever wondered what happens to Professional NFL Football players after they no longer are on a team?

They are among us!  They are our neighbors, our friends, but most of all they are caring.  They give their time to help charities.

I lived in Nashville, Tennessee, and I was in a creative mood.  I was thinking of a way that I could start something new; something big, something that would make a difference.  Little did I know that what was about to happen would be a full year commitment, but a lifetime of memories.  And I did make a difference!

I was starting a Wine and Dine Club (this will be my next section).  I needed some celebrities so people would want to attend my monthly events.  In Nashville,  Singer/Songwriters are everywhere!  But they have a large price tag too.  Hmmmm….my acting celebrities would have to fly in, and I didn’t want to have them fly in and have just 1 couple attend my event.  Hmmm….I’ve got it!  I’ll host Monday Night Football, give away prizes during the commercials, and get people to attend my Wine and Dine Club!

Monday Night Football PosterThis opened a can of worms!  Where would I host Monday Night Football?  I know, I want large screen TV’s, food and of course beverages.  Hmmm….I approached The Sheraton Hotel near the airport.  They liked the idea, but what was in it for them?  Hmmm….Okay, I’ll talk to my liquor distributors and get them to run promotions, get prizes from them, and fill the lounge up with people.

You see, the Sheraton Hotel, was going through a slow period since they depended on conventions and layovers from the airport.  (Monday nights were really slow)  The liquor distributors loved the idea, and they gave a larger discount to the Hotel on the promotional liquor for the evening.

The Sheraton was still not sure.  Hmmm….I needed some famous people so the press would advertise for free for me.  Hmmm….I know…what about football players?  That would be a natural, Monday night football & football players go together.

Hmmm….Most of the football players are playing football right?

I remembered meeting Vance Jackson (Denver Broncos), a retired football player who participated in a celebrity golf tournament.  He had mentioned that there was an NFL Alumni reunion or something that he would be attending after the golf tournament.

Hmmm….I wondered if any past NFL football players lived in the Nashville area.  As I discovered, Yes,  there were several!  Okay, if I hadNFL-Poster several NFL Alumni attend the Monday Night Football event, The Sheraton could also be a sponsor.  They could provide the posters of the football players, the football players would autograph them and give them away!  This was starting to shape up.  But…what was in it for the Football Alumni?  Little did I know they had formed a board and were trying to break away from being a sub-chapter of another NFL Football Alumni, and didn’t know how they would accomplish the requirements to become an independent chapter.

You see, the requirements included helping the charity sponsored by the National NFL Alumni “Caring for Kids”.  For 1 full year the new chapter would have to sponsor several events, gain press, and keep a scrapbook.  These were guys, fantastic football players, dads, grandpas; but the events they attended during their illustrative careers were planned and they just showed up.  They didn’t really know how to plan events.

Hmmm….I knew how to plan and promote events.  Okay, I proposed that I would plan the events necessary for the requirements, promote, and keep the scrapbook in exchange for at least 4 guys to come to my Monday night football event (every Monday night, rain, snow, or blizzard) autograph posters, and stay until the game was over.  They readily agreed!  Win-Win for both of us!

So let me recap what we have so far:  I now had an event every Monday Night at The Sheraton Hotel, hosting Monday Night Football.  The Sheraton is sponsoring by providing 5,000 posters of the NFL Alumni Players, food buffet, donated $500 per Monday Night Football game to the “Caring for Kids” charity and promote the beverages that the liquor distributors wanted promoted at a discount.  The liquor distributors NFL Monday Night Football Bannerdonated the promoted liquor to The Sheraton Hotel, and provided prizes (which were from the liquor company that they were promoting for the evening).  The NFL Alumni football players agreed to show up every Monday night in exchange for me to totally run the program to have them break away and become their own chapter.

What was in all of this for me?  Long hours, stress, and not only being committed every Monday night, but also organizing several other events, and documenting them for the NFL Alumni.  Did I mention that I wasn’t going to make a penny? It was all for a charitable cause.

Here are some of the NFL football players autographing posters for some Monday Night Fans.

Fans at NFL Monday Night Football Event

We even were on WNAB “Sports Talk”

Ramona LeBaron on WNAB “Sports Talk”

I really love football, but do you know how many commercials are on in a single  football game?  I don’t know, but I do know that I was not even able to watch the game!  Every time a commercial came on, I had to be ready to give away prizes.  I tried to do trivia, but by the time the question was answered, the game was back on, then another commercial.  This was too much work and I had tons of give-aways.  I decided to divide the lounge in half with one team’s fans on one side and the other on the other side.  Each commercial, I would do a cheer (I was a cheerleader in my past years lol) and the side that responded the loudest would all get the prize.  They loved it!  I went home without a voice.

Now, let’s look at the events that I was creating for the NFL Alumni requirements.

NFL Alumni Requirements

I found a sporting good store that donated footballs for the players to autograph that we could auction off to raise money for the “Caring For Kids” charity.  Cases of them!  Every time I was with a football player, I would drag out a case of footballs and get them to autograph them.  I always had footballs in my car.  Everywhere I went, I usually was with one of my guys.

The first event that I planned was on September 18, 1996.  The NFL Alumni were to visit 7 local children’s hospitals, and Outlook Nashville, giving away NFL Football memorabilia and autographed posters to approximately 200 children ages 5 and up.  They would visit the Vanderbilt Children’s Hospital, Baptist Hospital, Columbia Centennial Medical Center, Metropolitan General Hospital, Columbia Summit, St. Thomas, and Meharry/Hubbard Hospital.

Nashville's Music NFL Alumin in a bus

Ramona LeBaron (Actress); Bob Cook (Oakland Raiders); Ken Avery (Cincinnati Bengals/NY Giants/Kansas City Chiefs); Ray Rissmiler (New Orleans Saints); Ted Dushinski (Canadian Football League); Gary Bach (Washington Redskins); Shirley Dreshler (Outlook Nashville); Andre Johnson (NY Giants); Wamon Buggs (Green Bay Packers)

Hmmm….how would I get all the football players on time to all seven hospitals?  I negotiated with Orion Charter and Tours to donate an Executive Lounge Bus in exchange for mention in all press articles.  Done deal!  Guess what we did with the time we had on the road?  Yes, the guys autographed footballs!  This picture is the beautiful bus that we traveled in everywhere we went.  Nothing was too good for my guys!

Nashville's Music City NFL Alumni at an event

The kids loved meeting the NFL Alumni Football players.  We didn’t have much time at each hospital and when we were back on the bus, the guys were so happy that they could bring joy to these children, even for just a brief moment.

Nashville's Music City NFL Alumni at an event

We were still hosting Monday Night Football. There was never a complaint, they stayed for the whole football game and even if there was overtime, and we were all becoming very close friends.

The next event I planned, was scheduled for December 14, 1996.  The Orion Charter and Tours bus would pick up Santa and all of his helpers would go to the Tennessee Baptist Children’s Home.

Santa (David Hathcock of Green Bay Packers) and Santa’s Helper Ramona LeBaron (Actress)his helpers and take them to the Tennessee Baptist

Santa (David Hathcock of Green Bay Packers) and Santa's Helper Ramona LeBaron (Actress)his helpers and take them to the Tennessee Baptist Children's Home. A full lunch was donated by Noshville Deli, and entertainment was performed by Miss Nashville Tennessee, Darcy Donavan and Giants artist, Jim Collins. The NFL Alumni Football players passed out gifts to all the kids that were donated.

Santa (David Hathcock of Green Bay Packers) and Santa’s Helper Ramona LeBaron (Actress)his helpers and take them to the Tennessee Baptist Children’s Home. A full lunch was donated by Noshville Deli, and entertainment was performed by Miss Nashville Tennessee, Darcy Donavan and Giants artist, Jim Collins. The NFL Alumni Football players passed out gifts to all the kids that were donated.

Children’s Home. A full lunch was donated by Noshville Deli, and entertainment was performed by Miss Nashville Tennessee, Darcy Donavan and Giants artist, Jim Collins. The NFL Alumni Football players passed out gifts to all the kids that were donated.
Santa (former NFL Football Player David Hathcock/Green Bay Packers), his helper Actress Ramona LeBaron, and several former NFL Football Players and their families handed out presents.

The Tennesses Baptist Children’s Homes added a letter to our scrapbook.

“We wish everyone could have seen the joyful expressions upon the faces of our boys and girls at the Tennessee Baptist Childrens’ Home when they tore open the gifts and saw the presents given to them.  The food, the entertainment and all of the things that were done to prepare for Christmas were done exceptionally well and all who had a part went the second mile and more.  The gifts to the children were given with love and joyful expectation that a child’s life would be made better, and so it has been, and so it was so.

Thank you for your part in making the Chirstmas of 1996 a wonderful Christmas for the boys and girls and staff at the Tennessee Baptist Children’s home.

The story made The Westview Newspaper.

The Westview Newspaper
Ex-Vandy and NFL stars, Brenard Wilson, and Bill Wade, Chicago Bears with Santa David Hathcock, Green Bay Packers

The next event we teamed up with The Salvation Army.  This was a very spectacular NFL Legends Golf Tournament to that was held on October 20 and October 21, 1996 at Opryland  Themepark.

Poster for NFL Legends Golf Tournament

For nearly 2 decades, former professional football players committed to community outreach have worked to fulfill the NFL Alumni’s stated mission of “Caring for Kids” charity.  The NFL Alumni carries out its mission by actively raising funds for youth-oriented charitable causes and engaging in hands-on service to foster the development of “youth through sports and sports through youth.”  These goals are implemented in communities across the United States by more than 30 Alumni chapters and the national headquarters in Fort Lauderdale, Florida.

The cornerstone of the Alumni’s fund-raising efforts is it’s Charity Golf Classic Series.  Each year, in approximately 30 cities nationwide, former NFL players team with local businessmen in a day-long, 18-hole scramble event.  Five golfers, including one celebrity captain, comprise each team. Tournament expenses are underwritten in large part by local and national corporate sponsors, bolstering income for charities targeted by the host Alumni chapters.

Although community service is the focus of each tournament, the play is highly competitive.  In addition to bragging rights, the winning team from each local tournament is invited to the Alumni’s annual Super Bowl of Golf.

These are just a few pictures of the NFL Football players autographing footballs.  I told you that every opportunity I had with them, out came the footballs!

Isaac Curtis (Minnesota Vikings) and Sherman White (Cincinnati Bengals)

Isaac Curtis (Minnesota Vikings) and Sherman White (Cincinnati Bengals)

Andy Russell (Pittsburgh Steelers)

Andy Russell (Pittsburgh Steelers)

Otis Sistrunk (Oakland Raiders)

Otis Sistrunk (Oakland Raiders)

Ted Dushinski (Canadian Football League)

Ted Dushinski (Canadian Football League)

Youth of America Week also turns the spotlight on the types of activities that NFL Alumni members perform all year long with no fanfare.  This commitment to “Caring For Kids” may translate into a junior league football clinic in the spring, a cookout in the summer, or a trip to a children’s hospital ward with autographed memorabilia in the winter.

Of course at the tournament, every opportunity I had, the cases of footballs came out and not only did the local Music City NFL Alumni autograph them, but also all the other NFL Football players who attended the golf tournament.  I don’t think I slept for the entire 72 hours.  Keeping up with the NFL Football players, the footballs, and making sure everyone was on time to their assigned event in addition to playing a good round of golf.

Bart Starr (Green Bay Packers) and Ray Mansfield (Philadelphia Eagles and Pittsburgh Steelers)

Bart Starr (Green Bay Packers) and Ray Mansfield (Philadelphia Eagles and Pittsburgh Steelers)

This would be Ray Mansfield’s  last golf tournament in this world.  He died shortly after the tournament.  The Sunday before the golf tournament, the players hosted a day in the park at the River Bend Hollow in the Opryland Theme Park.  This event allowed several groups of less fortunate kids in the community to enjoy a day at Opryland Theme Park.  Also, there was a lunch where the kids could meet the Former NFL Players and get autographs.

“Caring For Kids”

“Caring For Kids”

Since the practice round of golf was running over about 1 1/2 hours, I had to fill in the long gap to keep the interest of the kids while they waited to meet the NFL Football players.  Coming up with a daring plan for a child to be able to ride the Sky Rocket with his favorite NFL Player sounded like an easy request.  I almost ended up having to ride it until Andy Russell (Pittsburgh Steelers) and Ray Mansfield saved me and started the raffle.  The kids thought this was the greatest and they were in the clouds.  Ray was a great sport and when he finished he said “Let’s do it again.”

After 2 days of golf, a day in the park autographing memorabilia, cocktail parties, banquets, and very little sleep; Ray made sure his schedule allowed him to attend yet one more event.  He knew that on Monday Night I hosted Stars and Spirits Monday Night Football at Coyote’s which also raises money for “Caring for Kids” charity.  Ray helped recruit other players and they all supported another event.  I know that some of the players even rearranged their travel schedules to attend.

Ray was a good friend and he had a big heart.  He died doing one of his favorite things, hiking in the wilderness with one of his sons right after his last golf tournament with us in Nashville.  Although Ray had conquered the Grand Canyon many times, he died along a rough trail on the first day of a four-day hiking trip with his son, Jim and a friend.

On this special night that the  NFL Football players, surprised me at my Monday Night Football event. All of my NFL Football family presented me with a plaque that I will always cherish.

The Nashville Music NFL Alumni 1996 became an independent chapter:

Ken Avery – Cincinnati Bengals/NY Giants/Kansas City Chiefs

McDonald Oden – Cleveland Browns

Ted Dushinski – Canadian Football League

Reggie Ware – LA Raiders

Jim Arnold – Kansas City Chiefs/Detroit Lions/Miami Dolphins

Brenard Wildon – Philadelphia Eagles/Atlanta Falcons

Wamon Buggs – Green Bay Packers

David Hathcock – Green Bay Packers/ NY Giants

Ray Rismiller – Philadelphia Eagles/New Orleans Saints

Gary Bach – Washington Redskins

Dwight Wheeler – New England Patriots/LA Raiders

Andre “Baby Face” Johnson – NY Giants

Scott Laidlaw – Dallas Cowboys

Alvin Coleman – Philadelphia Eagles/Cincinnati Bengals

Bob Cook – Oakland Raiders

Frank Pillow – Tampa By Buccaneers

Walter Suggs – Houston Oilers

Paul Guidry – Buffalo Bills/Houston Oilers

NFL Alumni Football Friends presented Ramona LeBaron (Me) with a special plaque

NFL Alumni Football Friends presented Ramona LeBaron (Me) with a special plaque

NFL Alumni Football Friends presented Ramona LeBaron (Me) with a special plaque

The special plaque reads:

Special Plaque Presented to Ramona LeBaron (Me)

Special Plaque Presented to Ramona LeBaron (Me)

To Ramona LeBaron

Our own All-Star Quarterback who always goes that extra yard for the team.

With love and affection

From the guys who would run interference for you anytime

We Love You Ramona!

NFL Alumni Music City Chapter

Next Reach for the Stars Wine and Dine Club

{ 5 comments… read them below or add one }

Leigh Ann GhersonNo Gravatar February 13, 2012 at 3:29 pm

Dear Ms. Lebaron,
I am trying to reach Mr.Wamon Buggs.I believe his father was Wamon Buggs who was a member of the Reid household.I am doing research into the family history and was hoping to contact Mr. Buggs. Would it be possible to forward this message to him.
With Kind Regards,
Ms. Gherson

Reply

RamonaNo Gravatar February 16, 2012 at 8:50 pm

I have not been in touch with Wamon Buggs in several years and don’t have any contact information…hopefully either he or someone that knows him will read your comment.

Reply

RamonaNo Gravatar February 15, 2015 at 4:19 pm

I have just emailed you Wamon’s email address! 🙂

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Lisa LaidlawNo Gravatar September 18, 2012 at 8:19 am

I am trying to locate jim Arnold.

Reply

RamonaNo Gravatar September 18, 2012 at 11:08 am

I have not been in contact with they guys in a very long time and I don’t have any contact information. I’m sorry and good luck with locating him.

Reply

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