Jalen plays receiver and free safety on his high school football team. As an out-of-district student at his school, he has a demanding schedule, balancing his schoolwork, football practice and an hour-and-a-half commute to school each day. Sometimes it’s hard to stay on top of it all. But his consistent sacrifices are what help keep him focused when time constraints get the best of him. “If it wasn’t for football, I wouldn’t be here now,” he says. With the help of the Southern California Honda Dealers and a special friend, Jalen will be reminded of the importance of commitment to and balance of the activities that he cares about.
The Southern California Honda Dealers have been giving back to the community with their Random Acts of Helpfulness now for over 10 years. One of the ways they give back is by helping at schools across SoCal, whether they’re providing supplies for a classroom or helping a fan to upgraded seats at a local college football game.
While well-known for their presence at USC and UCLA football games where they help fans with a lift to stadium, provide free parking for Hondas, and give out helpful game-day items like sunscreen and cooling towels that help make the day even better for the fans, the SoCal Honda Dealers also show support for the student athletes who someday may play for the state’s big name college teams.
The team showed up to Jalen’s football practice to cheer him on, and at a crucial time, according to coach Lorenzo Hernandez. “We want him to be balanced in everything that he does, in the classroom and on the field,” says Coach Hernandez, “but that balance is not as good as we want it to be because he has a time constraint coming and going to his home.” To give Jalen a confidence boost and a reminder about the importance of commitment, the Helpful Honda Guys in Blue brought a friend: Melvin Gordon, star running back for the Los Angeles Chargers.
Jalen was surprised to see Gordon, and even more surprised at how similar their two stories were. Gordon admitted that he had struggles on his path to being a professional football player. “I’ve sacrificed a lot to be in the NFL,” he told Jalen, “and I know you have sacrificed too. That’s one of the biggest things that separates you from other people.”
Jalen and the rest of the team ran drills with Gordon, who passed on technical tips as well as encouragement. “If you got the talent, the ability, and you believe in yourself,” he told Jalen, “you’re gonna be great, you’re gonna excel. you’re gonna take off.”
Arranging a visit by a member of the Los Angeles Chargers, however, was not the only surprise that the Helpful Honda guys had for the kids. “Courtesy of the SoCal Honda Dealers,” they added, “we are going to help fix up and improve your training facilities.”
That promise has a big impact for Coach Hernandez and his team, and will continue to impact the teams that follow. It’s just one more way the SoCal Honda Dealers are being helpful.