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Blitzing the Yard: UP Football All-Stars partners with Habitat For Humanity | WJMN

Blitzing the Yard: UP Football All-Stars partners with Habitat For Humanity |  WJMN
Blitzing the Yard: UP Football All-Stars partners with Habitat For Humanity |  WJMN


ISHPEMING, MI (WJMN) – On Wednesday morning, the UP Football All-Stars teamed up with the Marquette County Habitat For Humanity to put the finishing touches on their latest home construction.

Before the All-Stars got down to business, similar to Gameday, they first needed a solid game plan for success.

“Just like in football, in the game you show what you do, all the work you put in, the training, all of that,” said Andy Engstrom, Constriction Director for Marquette County Habitat for Humanity. “The most important thing today is that we spend time packing things up, doing it right and not being in a hurry, so that it will look beautiful when we unroll the eye candy here at the end of the day. So appreciate you all being here and ready to have some fun.

With that, the All-Stars got to work.

“They're putting in sod,” said Kristin Collins, program support specialist with the Marquette County Habitat For Humanity. “They are working on the shed behind us. They have some landscaping equipment that they're putting in, and they're carrying wheelbarrows of dirt and raking it up.”

“In my opinion, football is the ultimate team sport, where you have to have eleven people synchronized at all times,” says Dustin Brancheau, the All-Star Week & Game Organizer. “This is no different. We help families in need here. It teaches children life lessons that they will remember when they are done playing football. Whether they play in college for the next four years or whether this is their last game they get to play. They go out into the real world and learn the value of helping people in need.”

“The local community has done so much for us over the years, so this is the least we could do,” said Gladstone senior Nate Young. “Going out here and putting some work into all the guys. And it's a great opportunity to give back to our local community.”

Volunteers similar to the All-Stars are critical for organizations like the Marquette County Habitat For Humanity to help support their local communities.

“This is so great to see kids coming out to help,” Collins said. “I mean, all service clubs need help and we need help. So I hope this encourages many more kids to find a nonprofit they can join anyway, but we prefer Habitat.”

Joining the All-Stars at the construction site were the Celebrity Coaches for this year's competition. That included Nick Baumgartner, an Iron River native and Olympic gold medalist.

“The best thing I've been able to do with the platform I've built is the opportunities I can give back,” Baumgartner said. “I want these guys to understand that this is important. Not only do they represent their school district, but they represent their families, and to come out here and put their best foot forward. We are built differently here in UP because we have to work and fight for our opportunities. Nobody's going to give them to us. Now they're here showing what they can do with that work ethic. They made the All-Star Football team, which is incredible. Now they have the opportunity to give back and help someone who needs help. What a great opportunity to do both of those things.”

Former Michigan Tech Basketball and NMU Football player Jake Witt will also be on the sidelines Saturday as a celebrity coach.

Witt is gearing up for his second training camp with the Indianapolis Colts, but was happy to take some time off from practice to help the All-Stars.

“It's huge for me to be able to help out all week because these guys are going to college,” Witt said. “I also experienced that transition not so long ago. I want to be there to help them and support them, and this is just a great week for the kids here. So yeah, I'm also happy to be a part of things like this, where we give back to the community we all come from.

The recipients of the Marquette County Habitat For Humanity's 111th home construction are Troy and Kaitlin Conors.

“It was very exciting,” said Troy Conors.

“Yes, it was two years in the making,” Kaitlin Conors said. “We were actually on our honeymoon in Florida when we found out we were being singled out. So that made it extra special.”

Thanks in part to the work of All-Stars, the couple will sooner or later realize their dream of becoming a homeowner.

They wanted to thank everyone involved in making their dream come true.

“Thank you for all your help and what you do for us,” Troy Connor said.

“Yes, thank you very much, we really appreciate it,” said Kaitlin Connor.




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