Brotherly love

IAN BUSBY -- Calgary Sun

, Last Updated: 8:36 AM ET

Henry Burris' first exposure to the impact of a Big Brothers came when he was only 12 and idolizing the Oklahoma Sooners.

A young Hank met an extremely large Tony Casillas, future Super Bowl defensive lineman with the Dallas Cowboys.

"I was, 'Wow, this guy is huge,' " Burris said yesterday. "Being able to sit down and talk to him and find out his background was a life-changing event

"He wasn't the biggest name on the Sooners ... but just to meet him, I sat there in awe."

Shortly afterwards, Burris entered high school playing baseball and football while becoming a Big Brother himself. Now, as a pro quarterback for the Calgary Stampeders, Burris is still trying to leave positive impressions on kids.

With the help of Big Brothers and Big Sisters of Calgary, Burris is hoping to recreate the positive experience he had with Casillas years ago.

The Henry Burris All-Star Celebrity Softball Weekend May 13-14 will bring together local athletes -- as well as some NFL players, for a softball game -- home-run derby and football skills challenge.

Nearly all of the current Stamps will be appearing as well as several local winter Olympic athletes, all trying to raise money and support for Calgary kids.

"When it comes to children, there's a direct relationship with athletes," said Burris, who has put out invitations for Warren Moon, Mark Rypien and Larry Centers to attend the ecent.

"Most kids play a sport so bringing people they look up to can help bring their dreams to reality."

Burris considers himself one of the lucky ones. He didn't need a volunteer mentor because his dad was always there to throw the ball around and take him to games.

"I was blessed to have a father around because a lot of kids were raised in single-parent homes," Burris said.

"He was into discipline, being a (army) sergeant of course. I want to pass that on to others. I can help kids learn from the mistakes I made.

"The kids coming in will get to speak to these kids one-on-one and that's one of the focuses of this event -- we need more male mentors. We want to show the kids there's more than living the fast life."

Tickets are available for the End Zone Experience May 13 but entrance to the softball game May 14 is free with a donation.


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