NFL throws big party to salute young volunteers

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by MONIKA DIAZ

WFAA

Posted on January 12, 2011 at 11:49 PM

Updated Thursday, Jan 13 at 2:45 AM

DALLAS — It was a Super Bowl to celebrate giving.

Thousands of children were recognized for their volunteer achievements at a huge party at the American Airlines Center in downtown Dallas Thursday night.

"I'm really thankful that they did this big party for us," said 12-year-old Marquez Johnson, a Slant 45 volunteer.

The Slant 45 Kids Bowl Bash featured American Idol winner Jordin Sparks, former President George W. Bush and former Dallas Cowboys players. They came out to say "thank you" to some of the kids who changed their communities through the Slant 45 program.

The youth education initiative of the North Texas Super Bowl XLV Host Committee and non-profit, Big Thought, recruited more than 40,000 children. The young volunteers put in nearly 450,000 hours of community service since September 2009.

The program made history by becoming the largest Super Bowl youth education initiative in NFL history.

Kasie Harris and Marquez Johnson from the West Dallas Community Center participated in the Slant 45 program.

"We painted the center," said Kasie, 11. "It was like really old, and in the back of the center we did a mural."

They helped pick up trash in their neighborhoods, clean up the homes of senior citizens and paint a 70-foot mural, too.

"I liked the trash pick because it helped our community and our elders," Marquez added.

Dozens of Slant 45 projects across North Texas were launched and completed — from adoption programs for animals to food drives.

Organizers say those projects will still be around after the big game in February,  and they also left behind a valuable lesson on giving.

"It's good because our community is kind of messed up, but we can fix it," Kasie said. "We can do better."

Slant 45's achievements will also be featured on the big screen. A movie on the program will be in theaters a week before Super Bowl XLV. The premiere is January 28 at the Angelika Film Center in Plano.

E-mail mdiaz@wfaa.com

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