The Crusader Newspaper Group

A Simple Idea Makes a Profound Community Impact

By Andrea Smith

Have you ever had a simple idea that you dismissed and gave up on as too easy to become successful, then watched in amazement as someone else took and ran with it and made a profound impact? Sure you have. That could have happened with the Chicago Football Classic, but luckily the three Black businessmen who conceived this idea nineteen years ago stuck with it and turned it into the exceptional community-based initiative that has sent thousands of local students to Historically Black Colleges and Universities (HBCU’s).

Presented by Sherman Dodge Chrysler Jeep of Skokie and BMO Harris Bank, The 19th Annual Chicago Football Classic (CFC) will once again be proudly presented by Sherman Dodge Chrysler Jeep of Skokie and BMO Harris Bank and takes place on Saturday, September 10, 2016; starting at 3:30 p.m., Soldier Field, 1410 Museum Campus Dr. This year, Clark Atlanta University (CAU) from Atlanta, GA., is a first time participant and Central State University (CSU) from Wilberforce, OH as a CFC veteran, will demonstrate their Midwestern hospitality in this competitive and combative athletic affair.

Nearly twenty years ago, three well-regarded and highly successful Chicago-based African-American businessmen, friends and sports enthusiasts, discussed their mutual desire to give back to the communities which had supported and nurtured them. You’ve probably heard their names: Larry Huggins, Tim Rand and Everett Rand.

Chicago Football Classic co-founder Larry Huggins remembers it vividly: “When we looked around the neighborhoods where we lived and had grown our companies, it was obvious that they all had one thing in common – many of Chicago’s youth in these south and west side communities were full of promise, yet lacked a diverse range of viable outlets to harness their powerful potential. Sports was a natural and highly available outlet, while we considered educating future generations also vitally important. At the same time, HBCU’s were looking to expand their outreach to young Blacks who might not have considered them as a first choice for higher education.”

Adds Everett Rand, Chicago Football Classic co-founder, “It was so simple, looking back on it now. In many ways, each of us – Larry, Tim and I, live by the personal belief that it is better to give than receive. We are successful businessmen and Chicago has been very good to each of us. It is our responsibility and humble honor to promote, protect and uplift our youth. From that, the idea for the Chicago Football Classic was born.”

Local entrepreneur Tim Rand, the other enthusiastic Chicago Football Classic co-founder gives perhaps the best rationale for the event’s continued positive momentum and overall success, “The Chicago Football Classic is an extraordinary experience for people of all ages – and as it has grown and successfully evolved over the years, it became clear by the tremendous response of the community that this is what we were born to do!”

These men took a simple idea and turned it into a spectacular success! How? By focusing on taking young men and women, and preparing them as future generations of possible business people, educators, scientists, doctors and other professionals with an educational connection to Historically Black Colleges and Universities through athletics.

Today, the Chicago Football Classic has become a destination event, which has helped students attend and graduate from HBCU’s across the country. The Chicago Football Classic promotes the long-term success of African-American youth, to achieve academic, personal and professionally oriented excellence, while attending Historically Black Colleges and Universities throughout their lives.

You do not want to miss this one, so lock-in the date, Saturday, September 10th in your smartphones, send a selfie, program a reminder, do whatever it takes to mark your calendars and be there!

For more information on the Chicago Football Classic call 773-874-8000, x.4024 or 773-734-1600. Go to the “Chicago Football Classic” on Facebook and follow them on Twitter: @CHIFTBLCLASS.

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