That was the message of retired NY Giant George Martin, who gave a keynote address at the Mahwah Regional Chamber of Commerce's Super Community Spirit Showcase Wednesday night. A handful of current and former NFL players were on hand for the event, which gave 100 local non-profits the chance to pitch exhibits highlighting their work in the community.
The event combined charity work and football with its theme of teamwork, saying that neither the running of a successful charity, nor of a successful football team, is possible with out it. The Showcase was sactioned by the NY/NJ Super Bowl Host Committee, and is one of the first official pre-Super Bowl events to hit Bergen County in preparation for the big game at MetLife Stadium next Sunday.
"We were able to co-op the energy leading up to the Super Bowl and direct it toward the great work that all of our non-profits in the area are doing," MRCC President Martha Harvey said.
"It's really been a fantastic event. For the NFL players to come and give up their time, and for them to tell these non-profit workers and volunteers not to give up because the work they're doing is so important, that's big."
Buffalo Bills wide receiver Chris Hogan, who lives in Ramapo, N.Y., was on hand alongside Martin, retired NY Giant Karl Nelson, and Mahwah native and NFL player Kevin Haslam to sign autographs and take pictures with football fans.
“I’ve never been part of an event like this before, but I think it’s great to combine football and the non-profit world, especially with the Super Bowl coming here,” Hogan told Patch.
“And walking around talking to people and seeing the work they do, it’s pretty amazing.”
Representatives of the non-profits, who were up to win the proceeds of the night’s live auction, raffles, and merchandise sales, said the event helped them both gain exposure in the community, and network with other non-profit organizations.
“This is a great opportunity to partner with other organizations in Mahwah and the local arena,” Rob Parker of the Plant Church in Mahwah, one of the exhibitors, said.
“This has been great,” Maureen Cameron of the Girl Scouts of Northern NJ, added.
“It’s exciting to see everyone pumped up about the Super Bowl and finding out what all of the other groups are about.”
Local and county officials were also on hand Wednesday night, as well as residents who stopped by for autographs and to check out the non-profits.
“It’s a great event,” Mike Marusic, of Suffern, N.Y., who attended with his wife and three young kids, said.
“The kids are having fun, they loved meeting the football players, and it gave us the opportunity to tell them about these charity organizations and explain what they do. It’s a good thing.”