INDIANAPOLIS – The NFL offseason brings a time of rest and recuperation for many football players. However, the desire to serve and recognize others still burns brightly in the Indianapolis Colts as the team sought to honor Black History Month this past week. On Friday, February 8, 2013, Colts TE Dwayne Allen, DE Fili Moala and DE Cory Redding helped the team host approximately 300 Central Indiana students at a special performance of the Indiana Repertory Theatre (IRT)'s Jackie and Me. As children from local IPS Schools Arlington Woods Elementary and William Penn Elementary entered the theatre, joined by students from St. Philip Neri and Indiana University-Kokomo, they were pleasantly surprised to see three football players in Colts jerseys awaiting the opportunity to take photos with them before the play.
When it was time for curtain call, Allen, Moala and Redding took center stage to welcome the audience to the performance. Allen briefly talked about how the story of American Baseball Legend Jackie Robinson resonates with him as an African-American professional athlete because of Robinson's ability to overcome racial prejudice and discrimination. Hosting the performance during the month of February was perfect timing, as noted by Moala, who shared the significance of Black History Month.
"Black History Month provides an opportunity to honor those who fought for equality and civil rights so that we could all sit in this room together today," said Moala. The children were reminded of the importance of respecting others regardless of race, background and any other differences by Redding, who closed with a simple thought: "You may have more in common than you think."
"The accolades of professional athletes go beyond the field," said Stephanie Pemberton, senior director of marketing for the Indianapolis Colts. "The Colts are proud to support the IRT's commitment to performance arts and influences that highlight American stories like Jackie Robinson. Robinson's journey as the first African-American Major League Baseball player transcends all sports and ethnicities to inspire perseverance and cultural diversity."
As the Corporate Education Partner for *Jackie and Me, *the Colts are providing more than 12,000 underserved students throughout the state of Indiana the opportunity to visit the theatre for a matinée performance.
"This story of Jackie and Me *enlightens young readers to the racial tensions of previous generations and to the bullying that continues to be prevalent today," said Steven Stolen, Managing Director, IRT. "To have this production in our student matinee series is a perfect addition to Black History month education. We couldn't be more thrilled to partner with the Indianapolis Colts on this event – and throughout the run of the show." Theatrical performances of *Jackie and Me run through February 16 at the IRT.