AP NEWS

UnitedHealthcare, Dreambuilders program, donate $10,000 grant to Fort Bend ISD’s Willowridge High School

February 20, 2018

After Fort Bend ISD’s Willowridge High School had to be closed for mold repairs last semester, students were excited to return to their own campus when classes resumed in January.

Returning coaches and players from the football team were also surprised to discover the weight room had been outfitted with brand new equipment thanks to a $10,000 grant provided by UnitedHealthcare and Houston Texans cornerback Johnathan Joseph’s Dreambuilder’s program. The new equipment replaces items damaged by mold discovered at Willowridge over the summer.

“For me, seeing these kids’ faces light up because of their new weight room is very inspiring, especially as I think about what these kids have been through with their school being closed and other hardships,” Joseph said. “And then, knowing all the hard work they’ve put in during the season, it’s wonderful to have something positive like this come to their school.”

Joseph and company officials from UnitedHealthcare gathered with district officials and students to help dedicate the new weight room facility on Tuesday, Feb. 13.

“As an athlete, the weight room is where it all starts. It’s where you build your foundation toward becoming bigger and stronger and faster,” Joseph said. “Regardless of whether it’s on the football field or the basketball court, these same principals of life carry over to the academic world and will help teach these students how to achieve their goals and be successful.”

Willowridge principal Terrence Hayden said the new weight room provided a big upgrade for the campus.

“Our students and staff went through a lot last semester, but we made it through,” Hayden said. “And so, returning to our own school and having this new weight room outfitted with new equipment is such a blessing and I know these students feel as grateful as I do. Before this, our weight room had old tile floors and a roof that leaked. It was pretty bad.

“So, our students are extremely blessed to receive this donation from United HealthCare and the Dreambuilder’s program as we work to promote wellness among all our stakeholders.”

Richard Lazarou, head football coach, said last season provided tough challenges but also gave students the opportunity to learn resilience.

“Football is all about minimizing distractions. But with our students being bused back and forth from Marshall to this campus every day for practices, roughly 77 bus trips during the season. There were a lot of distractions and it was tough for these students. But it turned out these challenges provided valuable life lessons for our players,” Lazarou said. “As coaches, we talk often about living with class and character, overcoming obstacles and doing the best you can regardless of the circumstances.

“Seeing our students actually live that out last semester was a very humbling and inspiring experience. And now, having UnitedHealthCare and Dreambuilder’s program come through and bless this school with a new weight room is amazing.”

Dave Milich, UnitedHealthcare of Texas CEO, was among the VIP guests at the dedication ceremony.

“Our mission is helping people live healthier lives and this is one small way we can help these students and the people who work here by providing exercise equipment,” Milich said. “Our hope is this will not only help these students to be successful athletes but to also achieve a healthier life.”

The Dreambuilders Foundation is a non-profit organization that works with pro athletes across the country to help financially, physically and mentally-challenged kids receive the equipment and the opportunities needed to reach their dreams.