ROYAL CENTER, Ind. (AP) - Two 12-year-old football players hailing from Liberia recently used their talents on the field to aid their home country that continues to be stricken by a deadly virus.
Twins Addai and Ezra Lewellen were adopted when they were 5 by Royal Center couple Ryan and Stephanie Lewellen.
Ryan Lewellen said a recent family brainstorm on how to help the twins’ home country resulted in a touchdown pledge.
During a game at the end of September, the young football players gave spectators the chance to donate as much money as they wanted to fight the Ebola crisis in Liberia for each touchdown their team scored, the Pharos-Tribune reported (https://bit.ly/1z7uynB ).
Addai, who plays fullback, said he wanted to take part in the pledge “to help people back in our country. … It makes me feel sad for the people and makes me want to help them.”
Their team - the Cass County Youth Football League’s Pioneer Panthers - ended up raising more than $1,100 across four touchdowns all scored by the twins.
“It makes me feel happy since the money is going there to help them,” said Ezra, who plays quarterback and outside linebacker.
Ryan Lewellen, who is also the Panthers’ coach, said the sense of goodwill spread across the whole team.
“All their teammates wanted to score more and more touchdowns,” he said. “They really wanted to help out and get behind it.”
Funds went to the international charity Samaritan’s Purse, which the family chose for its Christian foundation and option to earmark donations specifically to medical resources for the Ebola crisis in Liberia.
Donations were made by parishioners of Pisgah Church west of Logansport, which Ryan Lewellen preaches at. The Lewellens describe the congregation as their extended family, adding many attend games to cheer on the twins.
“They’re excited about the boys’ sports,” Stephanie Lewellen said.
Looking back on the pledge, Ryan Lewellen said he was impressed by his sons’ use of their talents for God at such a young age.
“I’m really proud of them as Christian young men,” he said.
Stephanie Lewellen agreed, adding she praises her sons’ work as a selfless act that brings much-needed attention to Liberia.
“It kind of lets them shine a light on their country,” she said.
The Associated Press reports Liberia has seen more than 2,300 casualties from the ongoing Ebola outbreak.
Stephanie Lewellen said while the twins have family in Liberia, a lack of technology and infrastructure prevents communication.
She added Addai and Ezra’s efforts to score touchdowns to benefit those on the other side of the planet contribute toward the idea that small acts can make big differences.
It reminds her of a quote she’s always liked: “Live life simply so that others can simply live.”
“That’s a pretty strong statement,” she said.
Information from: Pharos-Tribune, https://www.pharostribune.com
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