Messenger photo by Dianne Schultz
Mike Furrey (left), a wide receiver for the Detroit Lions and a graduate of Hilliard High School, and his wife Koren, daughter of Jonathan Alder assistant football coach Barry Blackstone, presented a $5,000 check to Plain City Elementary Oct. 11 to be used for playground equipment. On behalf of the school, Trey Mast (center), a third-grade student, and Principal Kelly Hicks (right) accepted the check.
On the football field, Mike Furrey is a ferocious competitor. Off the field, he’s a down-home guy dedicated to motivating children to reach their full potential.
Furrey, now in his fifth season in the National Football League, is a wide receiver for the Detroit Lions. On Oct. 11, Furrey visited Plain City Elementary to talk to students about goal-setting and to present the school with a $5,000 donation for playground equipment.
“What do you want to do when you grow up?’’ Furrey asked the kindergarten through fourth-grade students assembled in the school’s auditorium. Many said they want to be football stars like Furrey. Others said they want to be doctors, nurses and teachers.
Furrey told them the path to realizing those dreams starts with a good education, good behavior, and hard work.
“Can any of you tell me who the hardest worker is in your class? I’m talking about someone who always has their homework done on time, who always respects their teachers and shows they are always here at school on time and wants to learn,” Furrey asked.
After listening to the children’s answers, Furrey said all students can be the hardest workers in their class.
“Be that somebody you want to be. That’s what I challenge you to today. Be that person yourself,’’ he said.
Furrey’s visit and donation to Plain City Elementary is representative of the work he does through the Mike Furrey Foundation, a non-profit organization he and his wife, Koren, daughter of Jonathan Alder High School assistant football coach Barry Blackstone, started last year. Corporate contributions and part of Furrey’s NFL earnings fund the foundation.
In addition to Plain City Elementary, the foundation will make donations this year to schools in Detroit, Mich., and to the Lutheran Charities League of Central Ohio.
When asked why he supports schools and Lutheran charities, Furrey said, “Look at my autograph.”
Furrey had just left Meg Wood’s second-grade classroom where he had signed a paper hanging on the chalkboard. Beneath his name, Furrey included a passage from the Bible taken from the Book of Joshua: “Be strong and of good courage, do not be afraid nor dismayed.”
A 1995 graduate of Hilliard Davidson High School, Furrey lettered in football, baseball and basketball before playing nine games at Ohio State University as a walk-on. He then transferred to the University of Northern Iowa.
Last year, Furrey finished the season ranked second in the NFL (first in the NFC) with a team-leading 98 receptions. He is only the third player in NFL history, and only the second non-rookie, to record 98 receptions following a season when he recorded zero receptions.
Furrey and his wife are building a home outside of Plain City. They have two young children. Furrey will split his time between Detroit during football season and Plain City in the off-season.