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Pennington's foundation marks milestone

Dec. 08, 2011 @ 02:34 PM

HUNTINGTON -- There were a million reasons for Chad Pennington to smile on Saturday night.

One for every dollar that his 1st and 10 Foundation has brought to southern West Virginia families and organizations.

Surrounded by friends and family from the NFL and Marshall communities, Pennington announced that his 1st and 10 Foundation eclipsed the $1 million mark in funds raised for the Tri-State with the proceeds from Saturday's seventh annual 1st and 10 Foundation Celebrity Bowl.

"Never in a million years -- no pun intended -- did we ever think we could raise $1 million dollars," Pennington said. "That's because our supporters have been amazing. They believe in us, and our foundation is their foundation. We are excited about that."

A capacity crowd filled the Strike Zone Bowling Center to help Pennington's cause while enjoying a social event with several NFL stars.

"Other than Chad, I was excited to see Daunte Culpepper," said Dave Morrison of Ashland. "He's a guy I watched for years with (the NFL's) Minnesota (Vikings) and Oakland (Raiders). It's pretty intense to see all these guys here though."

In addition to Culpepper, many of Pennington's teammates with the Miami Dolphins were in attendance. Those players included tackle Vernon Carey, running back Patrick Cobbs, linebacker Channing Crowder and defensive tackle Jared Odrick.

Former teammate Greg Camarillo (now with the Minnesota Vikings) also joined, along with former Marshall players Doug Legursky (Pittsburgh Steelers) and Ahmad Bradshaw (New York Giants).

Especially for Legursky, Saturday night was a special event, considering that his hometown of Beckley sees the benefits of the charitable grants by the 1st and 10 Foundation.

"A lot of these guys are from all over and they come to support Chad and a good cause. For me, this is supporting me and my neighbors and people in my neighborhood," Legursky said. "I'm from southern West Virginia and Chad helps southern West Virginia, Florida, Tennessee. For him to help out a community that's really close to my heart makes it that much more important for me to be a part of it."

Bradshaw and Legursky were not the only former Herd players in attendance on Saturday.

Former Marshall offensive lineman Aaron Ferguson had a table and ended up drawing Legursky in the celebrity lottery, meaning that a pair of former Marshall offensive linemen shared the lanes.

Ferguson said that the night could not have been any better -- not only did he get to share some laughs, but he also got to see the Tri-State once again rally for a cause.

"The testament to this area is that we are in a recession, but the community still rallies around Chad because they know the money raised with his foundation is staying here in the community," Ferguson said.

What also makes the event special is the NFL players being there.

The event comes at a time in which those players that were in attendance are currently locked out -- essentially unemployed from their jobs and unable to communicate with the organizations for which they work.

Even with the current uncertainty of their livelihoods, they still took time out to come to Huntington and support Pennington's cause, along with those who live in southern West Virginia.

It is the ultimate sign of teamwork.

And that's why Pennington now has a million reasons to smile.