Photo by Tony Gonzales
Recently, the Oakland Raiders introduced Raider Rusher, the new costumed youth ambassador based on a character in the cartoon NFL RUSH ZONE, to approximately 100 students from the Boys and Girls Clubs of Oakland and the Emerson Elementary Dream Catchers After School Program. The students had the opportunity to meet Raider Rusher, watch an episode of NFL RUSH ZONE featuring the voice of RB Darren McFadden, and participate in a Gatorade Junior Training Camp on the Raiders practice fields.
Raider Rusher is the latest addition to the Silver and Black's Community Relations roster. The goal is to continue to enhance the Raiders youth initiatives and add to the community relations assets.
The kids enjoyed meeting Raider Rusher and fed off of his energy. "The energy has been through the roof," said Cal Stanley, the president of Boys and Girls Clubs of Oakland. "The Raiders have been supportive of our work with Boys and Girls Clubs for a long time, from arranging to have new gym floors put in to tickets to football games to memorabilia, so our young people are out here having a fantastic time and the energy is high."
The students from Emerson Elementary ran around with Raider Rusher on the practice field. "When you think of characters, a lot of [the kids] are into that," said Marchella Lewis, assistant coordinator of the Emerson Elementary After School Program. "And then [Raider Rusher] has energy. He's having them run with him and they get to play."
The event at Raiders headquarters meant a lot to the kids in both programs. "I think it's really big because we have a lot of kids that want to be athletes when they get older, but they don't know how to. They get to experience it first hand, what it's like to be on the field, what it's like to hit all the equipment and run through the things," said Lewis. "I think it's a good experience; it's hands on. They get to come to the job and see how it is for the players."
Stanley, who has worked with the Raiders for many years, understands the impact a Raiders visit can have on the young students. "I think it means a great deal," said Stanley. "I know I would have loved to have been here as a kid growing up in Oakland. I know they're enjoying it now. The Raiders are their hometown team and we appreciate the opportunity."
Raider Rusher debuted at the Raiders 2013 home opener versus Jacksonville on September 15 in Raiderville, the Raiders' interactive tailgate party as well as in the three Kids Zones located inside O.co Coliseum. Raider Rusher will continue to visit the Kids Zones on game day. He will also make appearances in the community.