PHOTOS: NFL: Fred McCrary’s Family Fun Day goes off without a hitch

The bounce house was a popular attraction for the children during the 10th Annual Fred McCrary's 44 Ways Foundation Family Fun Day on Saturday May 28, 2011 at Fleischmann Park. John M. Wissocki / Daily News Correspondent

Photo by JOHN M. WISSOCKI // Buy this photo

The bounce house was a popular attraction for the children during the 10th Annual Fred McCrary's 44 Ways Foundation Family Fun Day on Saturday May 28, 2011 at Fleischmann Park. John M. Wissocki / Daily News Correspondent

— A little bit of weather wasn’t about to get in the way of a lot of fun.

Fred McCrary’s 10th annual Family Fun Day was hardly delayed by gray clouds and rain to the south and east of Fleischmann Park on Saturday afternoon. In fact, the cooler air made for a better atmosphere.

“I know this; God is in control, in 10 years it hasn’t rained,” said McCrary, 38, who played 13 seasons in the NFL. “That’s a good thing -- 10 years, that gives you a warm feeling inside that you know you’re doing the right thing.”

By the time the event began at 3 p.m., two bounce houses and a rock-climbing wall flanked the playground opposite of the park’s basketball courts. By 4:30, a few hundred kids, parents and family members were gathered in line for the free T-shirts, food and drinks being provided by the former NFL fullback and Naples High star.

Names were scrawled on clipboards of kids ready to try their hand at the free throw contest, or the 40-yard dash and punt, pass and kick competitions. Not long after people began filling up the grounds were raffle tickets being sold for prizes to help benefit the Naples Gators youth football program.

Last year, McCrary estimated that around a thousand people came out to enjoy themselves based on the 800 plates of food they served, so this year he made sure that he was prepared.

“Last year we were out of food an hour early,” he said. “So we brought more. I had to bring a lot more this year.”

The raffles weren’t the only means of raising money for the football team. A donation tent was set up for those to wished to help with the costs of football gear and uniforms for the kids that played for the same team McCrary did during his childhood.

In addition to what was earned and collected throughout the day, McCrary also made a donation to the Naples Gators, an act of kindness that was not lost on the players themselves.

“That means a lot, for me to get a chance to play football out here. It’s amazing how they do it all,” said Chase Burke, 8, of Naples. “I feel really special. I want to be in the NFL when I grow up. I feel so good that I’m here and get to meet an NFL football player. I’ve always wanted to meet one.”

Plenty of other youth football players were in attendance, and it didn’t take long before a pickup game began on the fields alongside Goodlette-Frank Road. They were just as many from around the community with no ties to the Gators who came to kick off their Memorial Day Weekend with a bang.

Regina Davis of Naples was at the event with her daughter, Destiny Reed. Davis’ friends and family were involved in organizing the event, and she took it upon herself to enjoy some quality control duties.

“We come out here every year because it’s just awesome. The kids have a blast,” she said. “We’re going from here to another barbecue and then tomorrow we’re having one of our own."

The festivities provided the perfect platform for McCrary to continue helping the community through his 44 Ways Foundation. His enthusiasm for the event was matched only by that of the kids bouncing from activity to activity.

“I have three boys, and they’re my world, but these other kids are an extension of my world,” he said. “That’s why I live, to help them out, make them better people and encourage them. If we can do that, that’s what life is about.”

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