Charity event close to Henderson's heart

William Henderson enlisted the help of some high-powered teammates to raise money for causes near and dear to the fullback's heart at the Mary Lou Mahone Celebrity Golf Classic in Southeastern Wisconsin.<p>

Henderson along with teammates Darren Sharper, Najeh Davenport and Kevin Barry traveled Tuesday to Bristol, Wis., about 45 minutes south of Milwaukee, to help out the Mahone Endowment of the Greater Kenosha Area Foundation. The foundation funds college scholarships for graduating high school students and provides resources for cancer patients and their families.

For Henderson, both the health-care and education missions of the Mahone foundation hit close to home. While neither of his parents graduated from high school, they encouraged his education which culminated in a degree in physical education and African-American studies from the University of North Carolina. Since then he has used both his education and status as a professional football player to raise awareness of health care issues such as prostate cancer, which claimed his grandfather, and diabetes. His mother died of complications from diabetes, which went undiagnosed for many years.

"I understand what my role is," Henderson told the Kenosha News. ...I have opportunity to reach out and touch other people." "For me, it's not that I'm just trying to make it and not give back. Giving back to the community is something my parents taught me," Henderson said.

He said he admired the accomplishments of the late Mary Lou Mahone. She was an activist for civil rights, youth and community in Kenosha and surrounding area in southeastern Wisconsin. A middle school is now named for Mahone in Kenosha.

"Education is huge for me," Henderson said. "My parents didn't finish high school, but they wanted me to go out and make that step.

He encouraged today's youth to do the same.

"You may think that wall is huge and high and difficult and even slick to climb," he told the crowd of about 300 guests. "But theres' always a crack or a crevice you can step in there to help you climb and open that door for you."

The 10-year NFL vet has definitely walked the walk when it comes to pursuing educational opportunities. In addition to earning his double major in just three-and-a-half years at UNC, Henderson has also begun work on two master's degrees - one in physical therapy and another in orthotics and prosthetics. He plans to enroll in classes focusing on anatomy through the NFL Continuing Education Program this fall.

Henderson's charity work also speaks for itself. He established the Henderson's Heroes program to bring disadvantaged children from Milwaukee up to Green Bay for Packers games, funds programs at Milwaukee's Parklawn YMCA through a golf tournament, holds an annual Christmas party for underprivileged youth, and has done extensive work for countless organizations including the American Red Cross, Big Brothers/Big Sisters, Leukemia Society, Special Olympics and the Crippled Children's Fund. The list, and Henderson's capacity to help others, is seemingly endless. He has also worked with organziations to fight breast and prostate cancer and children's diabetes, is putting out a calendar this year to benefit diabetes associations, and has taken trips to visit Army and Navy personnel.

With Henderson as a role model, how could his teammates turn down his request to join him at the golf outing. Henderson confirmed that he had no trouble convincing the all-star lineup of Packers to join him at Tuesday's charity event. He also said the Mahone Foundation would have no trouble convincing him to come back next year and into the future.

"The guys, the understand that this is more important than throwing the football," Henderson said. "Please, keep me a part of it. If I can help out, I will."

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