Members of the San Francisco 49ers are putting their collective brawn to use today. Weeks from from training camp, volunteers and members of the 49ers family labored in football-type pre-season conditions.
"This is a big project. This is a lot of people putting a lot of hard work in, in a days effort to really make a difference," said Beverly Jackson of Rebuilding Together Silicon Valley, one of the organizing groups.
For six hours, 150 people are painting, drilling, landscaping, and remodeling three acres at the Morgan Autism Center in San Jose. The center, a school for upwards of 70 autistic children and adults, has been around for 45-years. But renting the space turned into owning it a few years ago. That brought the realization a major renovation was needed.
"We spent a lot of money renovating the interior of the building, but we kind of ran short when it came to the outdoor areas," said Brad Boardman, the center's executive director for the past four years.
The Niners organization heard of the need, stepped up, teamed up, and went into action. As part of the team's annual community day, owners, officials and ex-players are donating time, materials, and money to make this upgrade a reality. Lee Woodall was an All-Pro linebacker decades ago. Today, he's lending a hand like many others..
"That's the thing we love about the 49ers. that they give back to the community and they also support families," said Woodall.
The issue of autism is close to his heart. He and wife Terri have an autistic son, Jaden.
"We know what the challengers are with having a child that's on the spectrum. and more importantly, what's needed in the community so that people are included and accommodated and families aren't forgot about," said Terri Woodall.
Under an unrelenting sun, volunteers from Rebuilding Silicon Valley and the 49ers sculpted a garden area and nature path, built a trellis and benches, and repaired and repainted an amphitheater. Center officials say the new digs will be put to good use.
"For our students with autism and our adult clients with autism, they really need open space, outdoor areas, to come out and get some exercise and do it in a really safe way," said Boardman.
In the competitive world of sports, this is a win-win, where where those in need can claim this prize when they return from Summer break next month.