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‘I know how to change a baby.’ When I changed my perspective, it changed my experience. That weekend I had a blast with that young man.” Fred’s change in perspective paid off in college as well. In his senior year, he made First Team All- America. In 1987 he was drafted by the L.A. Rams. “The NFL saw something in my skill set that said, ‘This guy is fast. We can put more weight on him,’ and they drafted me as a defensive end.” Fred played with the L.A. Rams from 1987- 1988. “I went two years with the Rams, four with the Washington Redskins, and then back to the Rams for three years. I finished up with the New Orleans Saints.” In 1991, Fred played in Super Bowl XXVI with the Washington Redskins against the Buffalo Bills. As I looked at the diamond Super Bowl ring on Fred’s finger, I thought, once again I could say, “And the rest is history.” But life didn’t end after 10 years in the NFL. Fred is still writing his own story. In 1987, he married Regina, a young music teacher from his hometown of Vidalia. By the time of his retirement from the NFL, they had three sons: Lance, Landon, and Luke. Fred returned to Georgia Southern and finished his degree. By 2007, he had established Fred Stokes Foods. His signature item is “Fred Stokes Sausage,” which is “sold in select retail markets in Southeast Georgia, North and Central Florida.* It’s naturally smoked with some mild spices and real casing. It’s also gluten free,” said Fred. Although I haven’t had it myself, I told Fred that according to my son Micah who is a sausage connoisseur, it was some of the best sausage he’s ever had. (Fred Stokes Sausage is available at Thriftway Galaxy Food Store in Lyons). “We’re also getting ready to go into thirty-three Publix stores in Orlando, Florida, in the next few weeks,” he said. I heard one of the teachers in our public school system recently say something that made me think of Fred Stokes. “I don’t think I’m here to teach math,” she said. “I think I’m here to be with kids.” Her gift enables her to have influence in the lives of her students, and that, according to her, is the purpose of whatever you do, and ultimately, true success. As incredible as it was to play in the NFL, it was a gift that has allowed Fred to speak into the lives of countless young people. How many times, I wondered, has Fred’s story helped individuals to let their mistakes teach them responsibility, and to value growth over perfection. Most importantly, Fred’s story reminds us to value those whose love creates the “bridges” that give our dreams a path for us to walk on. ��TCM *For more information visit: www.fredstokesfoods.com Your Choice For State-of-the-Art Rehabilitation Therapy Short-term Rehabilitation Physical Therapy Occupational Therapy Speech Language State-of-the-art Synchrony Omnis EMGTM enables therapist to visualize the patient’s swallowing activity Orthopedic Recovery, Cardiac Recovery and Neuro-Post-Stroke • Patient rooms: private and private with shared bathroom • Luxurious spas with therapeutic whirlpool tubs • Beautifully landscaped outdoor patio areas Patient Focused One-to-One Rehabilitation Therapy 912.403.3400 | Fax 912.537.7196 119 Meadows Parkway West | Vidalia Meadowsparkhealth.org Hometown Living At Its Best 37


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