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"This school is close to my heart and I want all of you to set goals, dream big, and don't let anyone stop you." Ogunleye, a Staten Island Sports Hall of Famer, was joined by former NFL players Akin Ayodele, Damien Gregory and Keith Bullock in support of his Florida-based "Goal Power" foundation.
Event sponsors contributing financially to the event included Island Voice, GOAL Power, Senator Diane Savino, Staten Island Hurricanes, Walmart, Trader Joes, Craft House by Kurron Mangin, Jermain Miller and Children's Literacy Society.
The former NFL All-Pro defensive end returned to PS 57 in Clifton and his old neighborhood again Tuesday afternoon, stressing a message of academic excellence and self-discipline wrapped around family and community support.
"I sat in your chairs and in your classrooms," the former Park Hill resident told an assembly of third, fourth and fifth-graders while hosting his second annual Thanksgiving turkey giveaway program at his former elementary school.
He was signed by the Miami Dolphins as an undrafted free agent in 2000. Ogunleye is of Nigerian background, and his grandfather was king of the city Emure.
Ogun in his surname means "The god of iron." His father is a social worker employed by the City of New York.
"What they couldn't measure was his will and his heart, both of which are truly remarkable." Ayodele, who played football at Purdue, told the PS 57 students his own story of growing up in Dallas, Texas, and being diagnosed at an early age with dyslexia and attention deficit disorder.
Chicago Bears defensive end Adewale Ogunleye (93) pressures Seattle Seahawks quarterback Matt Hasselback (8) during the second quarter at Soldier Field in Chicago on October 1, 2006.
I had teachers and friends in my corner." COMMUNITY SUPPORT Bobby Digi, executive director of Island Voice, was a PS 57 classmate of Ogunleye.