The Agent Barry Live United Bowl takes place at noon today at Arkansas High School's Razorback Stadium. Football players from the Arkansas Tech Wonderboys and the Pittsburg State Gorillas, the two teams playing in the game, spent time Friday afternoon visiting clients of a few local programs supported by the United Way of Greater Texarkana.
Players from Pittsburg State visited with participants of the Opportunities, Inc. adult services program. They played volleyball, signed autographs and worked beside clients of the program.
"It's exciting. This is a good experience for these players," said Larry Garman, assistant coach for Pittsburg State. "They do some of this during the season and we probably have players getting degrees in something like this so it's a practical experience."
Levi Wyrick, a defensive end for the Gorillas, enjoyed spending time at Opportunities.
"It was fun from the beginning. As soon as we got here everybody was high-fiving us. It's been a fun two days. It's really exciting."
Karman Williams, a client of the program, had a good time during the event.
"It's fun. I have a nephew who's a football player too so this is cool," she said.
Sherry Young, executive director of Opportunities, said clients mark this date on their calendar each year.
"They look forward to it every year. The guys come in here and autograph shirts, play volleyball and work beside them. They love the interaction so it's a special day for them," Young said. "They'll be attending the game and tailgating beforehand. We plan a lot of activities around this game."
Other groups of players visited Texarkana Resources for the Disabled, Runnin' WJ Ranch and youths in PRIDE Academy at College Hill Middle School.
"These visits are an uplifting event for both clients and students and also the players and coaches," said Mark Bledsoe, United Way president/CEO. "You can just see it in their faces. Once those players get off the bus and they see those clients and students, they're asking for autographs, getting hugs and handshakes. It's just exciting and it gives these players a chance to feel like they're giving back to the community. They'll take this back into their own communities and remember this experience for the rest of their lives. It's more than just a game."
Tickets to the game are $10 for adults and $4 for students. More than $5,000 in cash and prizes will be given away during the game, and the Robert St. John Band will provide halftime entertainment.