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Vincent D. Johnson
Aug. 23rd, 2000 11pm

 

Could a football camp change your life too?

Imagine a summer football camp changing your life for the better. In the summer of 1990 that was the last thing Greg Siegman was expecting to get out of camp when he attended the Knox Passing College in Galesburg. It was there that Greg met Omari Mott. This meeting would become the catalyst for which Greg changed his life and the lives of many others.

 

Greg played as a wide receiver in high school. He was interested in improving his performance, so he decided to go along with his coaches and a few players to a passing camp in Galesburg, IL at Knox College. While he was there he befriended another junior wide receiver, Omari Mott from Joliet West. Omari & Greg may have come from two completely different backgrounds, Greg was white and came from an wealthy suburb of Chicago, while Omari was black and lived in the predominantly blue collar city of Joliet, but they managed to form a friendship exchanged numbers to stay in touch.

Greg admits he may not have stayed in touch with Omari had it not been for the fact that Omari’s little sister now attended the same high school as him. Siegman stayed in touch though the first have of the school year, but what happened next was something that Greg was unaware of how to handle.


Siegman told his inspirational story recently to Lockp
ort's student athletes & parents.

Every year the Siegmans take a Christmas vacation to Hawaii. Greg recounts his vacation experience in his speeches as so "I was complaining that the water was to cold, the smoothies were to small and I didn’t like the bathing suit my mom bought me." He will then relay that at this same point in his life Omari was shot and killed (he had no gang enrolment). Greg still unaware of his friend’s death until his return from Christmas break was still complaining about the water being to cold.

When he returned to school he found out the bad news when one of his classmates asked him if he had "heard what happen to Omari?" Greg was unaware of just how to handle such news. He never had to deal with a friend dying let alone dying to violence.

Greg remembered back to the last time he had talked to Omari, "It wasn’t a Hollywood last words type conversation" he recalls. There was however one thing from that conversation that stood out to Greg, "we both said that we wanted to be successful while we were still young." Being seventeen at the time, early for them was thirty.

After graduating towards the top of his class from Northwestern Greg was determined to make something positive out of Omari’s killing, so he took a year off from school and went to substitute teach in the Chicago public school system. He was assigned to Cabrini Green.

Two months after he’s been teaching he was recognized by two of his students. The three of them, all being on their way to lunch, stopped in a Michigan Avenue restaurant for milk shakes. The two students happened to be black and the restaurant was mostly white affluent customers. The woman they were seated next to looked over at them and then moved her purse to the other side. It was that negative moment that Greg turned it into a positive. Greg walked over and found the owner of the restaurant and told him that next week he’d be back with ten kids instead of two.

One hundred and eighty continuous weeks later straight (as of 8/20/2000)Greg Siegman’s Brunch Bunch is still going. He brings about twenty people each week to brunch, ten students and ten professionals. They go to some of the nicest restaurants in Chicago and the students as well as the adults come from a range of diverse backgrounds.

Greg also started a nonprofit organization called the 11 10 02 Foundation. This would server as a medium for people who were inspired by his story and wanted to make a donation. 11 10 02 happens to be Greg’s 30th birthday. Greg has used the money from his foundation to benefit the kids of Chicago’s schools, by buying clothes, school supplies & computers, amoungst other things. Greg has also used the money to set up scholarships for some Chicago school kids. He has also worked out a deal with Illinois Wesleyn College to offer a four-year scholarship in Omari’s name. Greg points out that the truly amazing part of this scholarship is it’s unlike any other in college history. Wesleyn will provide the scholarship, with no contribution from 11 10 02. It is estimated at $40,000. They’re also doing this in the name of a person who did not attend or contribute to their school. And last, Siegman will be the sole deciding member for who gets this scholarship.

Now it’s not very likely that you will have a similar experience from your past or future football camps, but Greg spoke to the students of Lockport High School on Tuesday. In his speech he told everyone that there are things his story gives us that we can use on and off the field, "Get to know people who are different than you. And if somebody mistreats you, remember before you do react that people will remember you not for how you were treated, but how you reacted." And Greg’s reactions have been noticed by some very important people, Mayor Daley, the NAACP, Diane Sawyer and President Clinton. Just to name a few.

As far as things go with his improvement on the field, Greg finished in the top 15 for receiving for the state his senior year. He did not play football in college.

 

For more on Greg Siegman & the Brunch Bunch, visit his web site @ www.brunchbunch.org

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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