Alumni Update: Grey Ruegamer
Sept. 30, 2004
Editor's note: This story was reprinted with permission from the Green Bay Packers.
Motivating the Young - Adam Woullard
Packers offensive lineman Grey Ruegamer is entering a sixth year in theNFL, an experienced vet. He is equally experienced in giving to thecommunity as he is protecting the quarterback.
Ruegamer first began his community work while in college at ArizonaState. He made visits to schools to read to children and was involved inthe D.A.R.E. program. Following playing in the 1997 Rose Bowl, he made avisit to a children's hospital with some of his teammates. He was struckby the courage he saw in the children he saw there.
'It was sad seeing the kids, but those kids are tough,' Ruegamer said.'They're fighting everyday. We'd go in there and talk with them. It wasgood to see them smile after all that they've been through. It reallymakes you feel good.'
He was drafted by Miami in 1999, and ended up with New England thefollowing year. Ruegamer's charitable ways did not end with his collegecareer. His wife, Laurie, arranged for him and many of his Patriotscomrades to visit the Boston Children's Hospital during the holidays andalso participate in a corresponding telethon to raise funds for thehospital.
Ruegamer also helped clothe needy children. He and his team worked witha local Boston company to take inner-city youth to stores and buy themwinter clothes.
'We got them winter boots, hats, gloves and things they needed when itwas cold,' Ruegamer said. 'That was a lot of fun. You could tell thekids really appreciated it.'
When he came to Green Bay last season, he felt getting involved in thecommunity, particularly with children, was important.
'I wanted to get involved with the school system,' Ruegamer said. 'I wasa special education major and my mom is a professor. I thought it was abig deal to get kids interested in school. I didn't like school when Iwas growing up and I think a little motivation can go a long way forkids.'
That motivation was implemented at Elmore Elementary school in Green Baythrough a program called P.A.C.K.E.R.S, which rewards students for goodbehavior. P.A.C.K.E.R.S stands for Participation, Attitude, Cleanliness,Kindness to others, Effort, Respectful to others and super grades.Based on those criteria, teachers made a list of kids and, before everyPackers home game, four names were drawn. Ruegamer and his agent, RichMoran, then bought a pair of tickets for each child to send them to agame with a chaperone of his/her choice (more often than not, a parent).
'Not a lot of young kids get to go to Packers games,' Ruegamer said. 'Ithought it would be cool to reward them. Maybe they see school as boringor monotonous. If they do well, hopefully they'll learn there is someextra incentive involved.'
In addition to the ticket award, Ruegamer bought pizza for the entireschool to reward them for increased attendance.
This year, Ruegamer, with assistance from his wife and his mother,Lynne, created an additional reading element for the program at ElmoreElementary. He'll buy a book for each child and he and that student willsign it and put it in the library. Ruegamer hopes that by givingstudents a sense of ownership, they will be more excited to read.In addition to his work with the school, Ruegamer has done other workwith the Salvation Army and events benefiting the Cystic FibrosisFoundation, just to name a few. He is an outstanding community rolemodel.
'Grey likes to be behind-the-scenes yet is willing to give 110 percentto our community,' said Cathy Dworak, Packers director of communityrelations. 'He has a deep appreciation for literacy and education whichis why he volunteers every Tuesday at Elmore Elementary. The Green BayPackers are fortunate to have Grey on our team.'