- Associated Press - Saturday, March 12, 2011

MARLTON, N.J. (AP) - David Akers had a vision, and it had nothing to do with field goals, football games or a Super Bowl.

The five-time Pro Bowl kicker for the Philadelphia Eagles is a devout Christian who aspires for a life in ministry after his NFL career is over.

So at a time when players have been told to be careful with their spending because of the uncertainty regarding the collective bargaining agreement, Akers opened his checkbook for a cause that’s important to him and his family.

On Feb. 27, Akers sponsored a concert at Cherokee High School featuring tobyMac, Brandon Heath and House of Heroes. tobyMac, a five-time Grammy Award winner who has sold more than 10 million albums, is the Jay-Z among Christian rappers.

A musician of such stature could’ve easily sold out a much larger venue than the 1,500-seat performing arts center at a South Jersey high school.

But Akers, who lives in nearby Medford and attends church services at Marlton Assembly, wanted it to be a local event.

“I have a passion for youth,” said Akers, who worked as a substitute teacher in between stints in the NFL early in his career. “I wanted to do a free outreach as part of my giving to the church, and I wanted to make sure it was right there in the community I live in.

“Sometimes we don’t go out and take care of things in our own community. We let things slide. We are all called in the Bible to serve one another. If I can go to the ends of the earth and share it, why do I have trouble going to my neighbor and serving that person? So we started doing things for the community.”

Akers is a big fan of contemporary Christian music, so this type of concert was a natural fit.

“It speaks to me very well with a lot of things I’ve gone through in my life,” Akers said. “You can have positive, uplifting music instead of some of the things our kids listen to that’s so negative. You should watch what you hear, who you hang out with because it’s a slippery slope and all of a sudden, you don’t stand for what you thought you stood for.”

Tickets for the concert _ modestly priced at $15 _ were gone in a matter of days. The proceeds were donated back to the church. Overall, Akers spent $40,000 on the entire event.

Chump change for a star athlete?

Not quite in this case. In 2009, Akers lost most of his life savings when the investment company that held his money was sued for defrauding its investors and went into receivership.

Add in the fact that Akers just completed the final year of his contract and is unsure where he’ll play next season or how much he’ll make, and that’s quite a donation.

“The money I spent, if one soul was able to enter into heaven because of it, it’s worth it,” Akers said. “I look at that as me glorifying God through the platform he’s given me. I really believe God put me on this platform to go out and serve and to do better for his kingdom. As a steward, that’s my job to go out and do that.”

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