By Alex Byington and Colleen Flaherty
Killeen Daily Herald
After a whirlwind debut last year, the Centex Pro Combine Kickoff for Kids Weekend is back.
The second annual youth football camp is today and Saturday at Leo Buckley Stadium in Killeen.
"Last year's event was good," co-organizer Roy Miller said this week, "but we planned it two weeks out."
With more lead time this year, said Miller, the event promises to be bigger and better. Miller is a former Shoemaker High School and University of Texas defensive tackle who is entering his third season with the Tampa Bay Buccaneers.
Forty-two kids attended the camp last year. More than 100 have already registered this year, and there's still space for dozens more.
For the first time, the weekend also will include two fundraiser events for adults Saturday at the Killeen Civic and Conference Center, a "Showtime at the Apollo"-esque talent show and a Red Carpet Casino Night.
Joining Miller at the Kickoff for Kids Weekend will be former Ellison High School player Tommie Harris (formerly of the Chicago Bears), ex-Killeen High School and Oklahoma receiver Juaquin Iglesias (Minnesota Vikings), former Harker Heights High School and Baylor University standout Dominique Zeigler (San Francisco 49ers), and former Longhorns Quan Cosby (Cincinnati Bengals) and Frank Okam (Tampa Bay Bucs).
The point of the weekend is to teach local kids to dream big and to raise money for Hands for America, benefiting the Fort Hood Nov. 5, 2009, Memorial and local youth organizations and high school football programs.
"You need to be able to dream, you have to as a kid want to be a lot greater than yourself," Miller said.
"I remember in high school when I found out about (Harris) and his success at (the University of Oklahoma), that just sparked a belief in me that, 'Hey, another guy from Killeen made it, I can do it, too.'"
Continuing, he said, "(This) type of event is very important to this city because we actually have guys from the area that young people can relate with."
"It's not about the money, or the cars and all that you get, it's about being a role model for a kid," Iglesias said. "And when you can do something to help a kid out, especially from your community, that's what it's about. You're trying to pave the way for the next generation."
The Pro Combine experience goes out with a bang, Las Vegas style, during a Red Carpet Casino Night from 7 p.m. to 2 a.m. Saturday at the Killeen Civic and Conference Center.
"It's going to be a very nice event with formal evening attire," Miller said. "A bunch of different artists and celebrities from the city are coming back, with different bands and people performing. We'll also have a Las Vegas atmosphere, with blackjack tables, craps and roulette."
A red carpet will be rolled out for guests, Miller said.
Musicians Toni Ringgold and the Equinox Band, David Bell, Michael Carubelli and Stormy Lee will perform.
The event is preceded by a "Showtime at the Killeen Civic and Conference Center" talent show, hosted by Killeen personality Mookie Durant. The show is open to children and adults. NFL stars will mingle with local singers, dancers and other entertainers.
For more information, go to www.hometownpros.org.
Contact Alex Byington at firstname.lastname@example.org or (254) 501-7566. Follow him on Twitter at KDHsports.
Contact Colleen Flaherty at email@example.com or (254) 501-7559. Follow her on Twitter at KDHfeatures.
If you go
Centex Pro Combine Kickoff for Kids is for children ages 7-17, beginning at 5:30 p.m. today and 8 a.m. Saturday. Registration for both days is $50 per participant and will remain open until the beginning of the event at Leo Buckley Stadium, 500 N. 38th St. in Killeen.
"Showtime at the Killeen Civic and Conference Center," featuring local performers, is from 1 to 4 p.m. Saturday. Doors open at noon. Suggested donation is $5.
Red Carpet Casino Night is from 7 p.m. to 2 a.m. Saturday at the Killeen Civic and Conference Center.
Tickets to the formal, 21-and-up event cost $10, including general chips for games including slots, blackjack, roulette, craps and Texas hold 'em. VIP tickets cost $15. Dominos and spades also are available for an additional fee.
For more information or to buy tickets online, go to www.redcarpetcasino.eventbrite.com. Tickets also are for sale at Obessions by Carolyn and Renaissance Records in Killeen. For more information about the Centex Pro Combine, go to www.hometownpros.org.