Camp weekend kicks off with roast of host

Published 1:12 am Saturday, April 21, 2012

Michael Johnson and his mother, Thomasene Johnson, stand outside Brownstone Manor Friday night before auction and roast to benefit the Johnsons’ football and cheer camp that begins Saturday. -- Desiree Taylor

Laughter and smiles filled the room as family members, friends and supporters, came together Friday to highlight the career of Selma native and Cincinnati Bengals defensive end Michael Johnson during a fundraising roast. A silent auction was also held, with proceeds going to Johnson’s annual Youth Football and Cheer Camp, to be held Saturday at 9 a.m. inside Memorial Stadium.

Johnson’s childhood friends, former and current teammates celebrated Johnson and his commitment and dedication to not only the game but to his hometown.

Family friend and Valley Grande City Councilman Gene Middlebrooks recalled stories of how “little Michael” was always in the business of helping someone in need.

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“I can remember a story where Michael and this little boy were playing football in the yard and the little boy didn’t have any shoes on. At 4-years-old, Michael said, ‘Dad, he doesn’t have any shoes on, he can have mine.’ So he went into the house to get some,” Middlebrooks said. “You (to Michael) still see needs and share and help those who are less fortunate. He’s always helping someone out — I love him.”

Georgia Tech athletic trainer Clay Farr often traveled with Johnson to both domestically and internationally during Johnson’s college years. Far said there are three main things he appreciates most about the athlete.

“No. 1, Mike keeps people at a distance until he figures you out; he’s real receptive. You’re either in his circle or you’re out and I feel very honored to be in Michael’s circle,” Farr said. “Second — his honesty. Mike was always honest, and I admire his honesty. And lastly, Michael is extremely loyal. He loves Selma. He always talks about Selma. This is Michael’s village.”

Johnson’s fans also appreciated his dedication to Selma and his love for youth.

“I came to support positive young men such as himself (Johnson) and what he’s trying to do,” said Selma entrepreneur William Scott. “I want to let him know it’s not only family that supports him. I think he’s a great inspiration for other people; he’s about making things happen.”

Jamie Tellier, who has been working with Johnson’s camp for the past three years, said he enjoys coaching the children and making an impact.

“Just getting to be able to be a small piece of this camp is awesome,” Tellier said. “To teach these kids what it means to have a solid foundation and (to) go on to bigger and better things, is an honor. We teach about football and about life. Mike’s a great example and I’m honored to be a part of that.”

To end the program, Johnson said he was thankful for the public’s support.

“I’m real thankful for all individuals for helping me,” Johnson said. “Expect a lot more to come for Selma.”