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Pennington honored for charity work

Pennington
Apr. 26, 2013 @ 12:00 AM

HUNTINGTON -- For the second time in as many months, former Marshall University and NFL player Chad Pennington returned to Huntington Thursday evening to support a local cause.

The only difference this time was, in addition to being the most noticeable draw for the evening, Pennington also was the recipient of the most noticeable award of the evening during the TEAM for West Virginia Children's 7th annual Fundraising Dinner at Guyan Golf and Country Club.

Pennington was honored with the "Service to Children" award, which has been presented to the likes of autism activist Ruth Sullivan, former NFL player Troy Brown and former first lady of West Virginia Gayle Manchin.

While Pennington always is eager to return to Huntington to visit or support a local cause, he said his main focus isn't on garnering awards.

"It's neat to receive this award because TEAM for West Virginia does such a great job in working with kids who are in difficult situations," Pennington said. "I'm not really the kind of person who is big on trying to get these awards, but I certainly will come and accept this award and continue to try to help the organization in any way I can."

That is the kind of attitude that helped Pennington earn the recognition, said Laurie McKeown, the executive director for TEAM, who noted Pennington's work through the 1st and 10 Foundation, founded by Pennington and his wife, Robin Pennington.

"He has used his stature to give back to a lot of communities, and he and his wife are wonderful role models," said McKeown. "Many people become famous and don't choose the path that he has chosen, to contribute to communities this way. In addition to what they give with their foundation, they aren't afraid to roll up their sleeves and take action in a way that really benefits kids."

The event annually pulls double duty as both an award ceremony and a fundraiser for TEAM, which earns a little more than $25,000 during the event, said McKeown.

TEAM is a network of local and statewide programs that provide familes and communities the tools they need to support children with the ultimate goal of preventing child abuse and neglect, sand McKeown.

"Most people might not recognize the TEAM West Virginia for Children name, but they often are familiar with the programs we have," she said.

The four key programs in TEAM are Mountain State Health Families program, the Western Regional Court Appointed Special Advocate program, Prevent Child Abuse America and the Partners in Community Outreach program.

The programs focus on everything from representing children in court to providing an in-home education experience for children from birth to three years of age.

Child abuse is a difficult situation for everyone involved, said McKeown, but she said TEAM works to be as proactive as possible in preventing it.

"People tend to react to child abuse by saying it's just because of bad parents, but it is our job to talk about the solutions," said McKeown. "Child abuse is a tragedy, but most parents don't set out with the intention of hurting their children, and we all have our roles to play in supporting healthy families.

"Parenting is not an easy job, and we want to provide guidance and support to build communities where people can reach out for help when they need it."

For more information about TEAM for West Virginia Children or to volunteer, call 304-523-9587 ext. 316.

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