PSU Legends at Banquet

It was an impressive sight for Penn State fans who attended the first annual Penn's Civilians Banquet the Friday before the Blue-White Game. Everywhere they turned, Penn State legends and personalities were sharing stories and tales of their days as a player, as well as life after PSU.

Penn's Civilians was created by Rick Sayles in 2002 to provide academic and social support to urban youth. It began with a pilot program at Steelton Highspire High and has been growing with the help of the Penn State sports community. There are programs in Harrisburg and State College, and organizers hope to bring Penn's Civilians to other communities throughout the state.

Sayles and a host of other former Lions held a banquet in State College the night before the Blue-White Game to raise money and awareness for the cause.

Fresh off his Super Bowl appearance, Bobby Engram served as the honorary chair for the event. He was joined by a who's-who of Penn Staters, including Ki-Jana Carter, O.J. McDuffie, Chris Bahr, Troy Drayton, Robbie Gould, John Gilmore, Wally Richardson, Chafie Fields, Dennis Onkotz, Kenny Jackson and of course Sayles, among others.

Perhaps the most legendary Lion who made a surprise appearance during the evening was Wally Triplett, one of the first African-Americans to take the field in a varsity football game for Penn State and the first African-American selected in the NFL draft.

As Engram said, "Often the difference between someone making it or not is the support they have around them. The support I got while at Penn State was vital to the success I have enjoyed since then."

"It is so great to see this get off the ground," Carter said. "I have been helping Ricky for a while, so it is really sweet to see the event see this kind of success."

Carter was joined by fellow Floridian and PSU legend, McDuffie, who was announced as the 2007 honorary chair for the event. As he explained, "I am proud to be a part of this. It is amazing to see the PSU family come together for such a great cause."

The fans particularly enjoyed the opportunity to meet the PSU personalities and pick up some classic collectables from the event's silent auction. As Dan Evans of Lancaster, Pa., said, "This is one of the greatest PSU events I have ever been to. It's an absolutle blast."

Next year's event is already in the works. Penn's Civilians Board Member Richard Fisher explained said, "The fund-raiser was a tremendous success. The speakers and guest celebrities delivered Penn's Civilians message with passion and enthusiasm, and those in attendance had an entertaining and enjoyable evening. We are already planning next year's dinner, which promises to be an even bigger event."


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