Butler brings cheer home

Published 7:00 pm Tuesday, November 25, 2008

Super Bowl XLII champion New York Giants starting safety and former Bainbridge High School Bearcat football, basketball and track star James Butler Jr. keeps on giving back to Bainbridge and Decatur County.

His most recent gracious gesture came Tuesday when he teamed up with coach Ed Pilcher and the Bainbridge High School Bearcats football team to provide Thanksgiving dinners for some special local residents.

On Tuesday, Bearcat football players and coaches gathered at Winn-Dixie to deliver Thanksgiving dinners to 20 local needy families.

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The dinners were purchased with more than $1,000 donated by Butler, a native of Climax, which proudly has signs at the city limits proclaiming the town the home of James O. Butler Jr., New York Giants Football 2008 Super Bowl Champion.

He led the Giants in tackles with nine in their 17-14 Super Bowl victory over the previously undefeated New England Patriots in Glendale, Ariz.

Pilcher, BHS Principal Tommie Howell and two of Butler’s former coaches, Kelvin Cochran and Carl Elliott, praised him for his generosity.

“When I heard what James planned to do for some needy families at Thanksgiving, I immediately said our football team would be proud to take part in it,” Pilcher said. “As coaches, we try to develop the whole person, not just the athlete. By taking part in this project our players develop character by learning what it means to give back to the community.”

Butler won the Earl Carr Gragg Award, the highest honor a Bainbridge High School male student can receive, so BHS Principal Tommie Howell said the school is very proud of him.

“James Butler is an outstanding young man, and a very giving person,” Howell said.

“Giving back is what James Butler is all about,” Cochran said. “He started thinking about it as soon as he became a professional football player.”

Elliott called Butler one of the finest young men he has ever been around in his 28-year coaching career.

“James was a very humble young man who always stayed focused on his academic and athletic careers,” Elliott said.

During a Tuesday telephone interview with The Post-Searchlight, Butler expressed his appreciation to coach Pilcher and his Bearcat coaches and players for delivering the dinners.

“The Bearcat coaches and players are very special to me,” he said. “Their assistance helped make their Thanksgiving dinner project possible.”

Before leaving to deliver his dinners, Bearcat junior offensive guard Trevor Green said taking part in the project made him feel good.

“I’m going to have Thanksgiving dinner with my family, and I am happy to know that someone else will have a happy Thanksgiving because of what we are doing,” he said.

Butler, son of the Rev. James Butler Sr. and Nadine Butler of Climax and a former All-Atlantic Coast Conference (ACC) defensive back with the Georgia Tech Yellow Jackets, began giving back last summer by coming home and hosting a football camp, through his James Butler Dream Program for more than 250 8- to 14-year-old youngsters at Centennial Field June 28 as part of James Butler Celebrity Charity Weekend.

During the weekend, Butler and some other National Football League (NFL) players bowled to raise money for the Dream Program at the Bainbridge-Decatur County YMCA Langston-Gray Bowling Center.

His Dream Program, which also was part of the Thanksgiving dinner project, is a non-profit initiative that provides programs focusing on mentoring education and youth leadership and benefiting literacy and low income families.

With his parents present, framed copies of Butler’s Bearcat and Georgia Tech Yellow Jacket jerseys were given to Bainbridge High School during halftime of the Bearcats home opener Sept. 12 at Centennial Field. They will be displayed permanently at the new Bainbridge High School near Climax.