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DALLAS (CBS11) – After an impressive season, the Dallas Cowboys are getting some much-deserved rest and relaxation.
For at least one player, hard work off the field is a year-round commitment.
Brandon Carr’s impact in the community makes him one of CBS 11’s The Ones To Know.
The Tuesday after the Cowboys lost to the Packers in the playoffs, Carr visited the library at Mark Twain Elementary School.
The first graders who walked into the room greeted him by name as the Cowboys cornerback is a familiar face at the Oak Cliff neighborhood school.
He then pulled up a chair and joined the kids at their tables and asked them questions about school.
“I just try to get out of the way of myself. I’ll drop down to whatever age group I’m talking to,” Carr said.
Next to arrive: seniors from David Carter High School.
The group came to tutor the first graders who need to catch up in reading and writing.
Carr’s Carr Cares Foundation set up the partnership and pays to take the older students by bus to the elementary school every week of the school year.
The foundation is also working to provide scholarship money for high school seniors to pay for text books in college.
“He’s the reason why I come here. My other motivation,” said LaDiamond Robinson about the man who inspires her to be a role model.
Her Carter High School peer, Jimmia Rogers, agreed.
“It makes you strive for the best. Makes you never settle for less and give it your all,” Rogers said.
The tutoring partnership is expanding to include other DISD schools.
On this particular Tuesday, Carr filled the place of one of the high school tutors who could not be there. He says he is as at home in this building as he is in AT&T Stadium during football games.
“Today is nothing I don’t do in my household with my son,” he said.
Mark Twain Elementary School principal Derrick Ross said the school has had visits from high-profile people before—usually on a one-time basis—but he said Carr is different.
“Sometimes you see people do things like this and they do it for what I would consider selfish reasons. He does it because it comes from his heart,” Ross said.
This was not an extraordinary day for Carr.
On his day off during the playoffs, Carr spent the morning at the Lancaster Kiest Head Start Center, reading to preschoolers.
It is not easy to hold the attention of a few dozen 3-year-olds, but he can.
“It says a lot about that young man for him to be here. It makes an impact on the kids,” said Sharon Parker, a family advocate at the Head Start center.
“I think it’s important that we mentor our next generation, that we have experiences we share with them—our influence to be role models to those who may need it. An hour a day or an hour a week goes a long way with a child who is not getting different areas of attention,” Carr explained.
He started the Carr Cares Foundation in 2012. One of the primary focuses is literacy: helping young children become proficient readers and writers. Along with literacy initiatives, the foundation also encourages children to live a healthy lifestyle through balanced nutrition and physical activity.
Carr’s teammates have twice-nominated him to be their representative for the NFL’s most prestigious off-the-field award: The Walter Payton Man Of The Year.
While the accolades are an honor, Carr is motivated by something else: his mother’s legacy.
“I feel her in there a lot,” Carr said pointing to his heart.
For 33 years, Kathy Carr was an elementary school teacher in the family’s hometown of Flint, Michigan.
“The thing she instilled in me is giving back to her community. She was real big on her legacy and continuing to pass the torch,” Carr said.
Kathy Carr died of breast cancer in 2014. Brandon promised her he would finish the task. The Carr Cares Foundation not only works in the Dallas community, but in Michigan as well.
Three reading centers in Flint bear Kathy Carr’s name.
“There is always a child who needs something,” Brandon Carr said.
He said he learned an important life lesson from his mother: what happens off the field matters more than on it.
“I want to be known for things much bigger than [football]. I’m blessed to play this game and meet a lot of great people, but it’s just the platform and opportunity I have to impact and touch others around this community and around the country – that’s what makes me love playing this game the most,” Carr said.
Carr is hoping to get 500 people to join him and pledge to read to students one hour per week.
To find a school and sign up to be a reading volunteer, click here.
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