Do you think you’re faster than a Washington Redskin? Are you ready to take on one of the hardest-hitting players in the NFL?
Under normal circumstances, such delusions of grandeur would quickly lead to pulled hamstrings and bruised egos. But this Saturday, the playing field will be leveled when Redskins Lorenzo Alexander, Kedric Golston, Anthony Armstrong and others jump on their Schwinns and take part in the annual "Ride to Provide" charity event on the W&OD trail. The family-friendly event starts and ends at the Reston Town Center Pavilion. Proceeds support Alexander's ACES foundation and the tsunami victims in Japan.
Alexander, who began his NFL career as an undrafted free agent, joined the Redskins in 2006. Since that time, Alexander has cemented his place on the Redskins roster by proving his worth as one of the most versatile players in the NFL. With the Redskins, Alexander has played outside linebacker, defensive end, defensive tackle, guard, tight end and fullback, all while starring in various roles on special teams. However, Alexander's greatest contributions to the DC area come off the field and he hopes his ACES foundation can enjoy the same positive trajectory as his career with the Redskins.
"My mom, myself, and my aunt got together and decided I was at the stage in my career where I could pull the community together and start giving back," Alexander said, describing the beginning of ACES in 2008. "It started off real small, mom and pop. Every year it has progressed with my career. The better I've gotten the more I've been able to pour back into the ACES foundation."
The mission is to "support youth through emphasizing self Accountability, taking pride in the Community, striving for Educational excellence while promoting a healthy mind and body through Sports," hence the name ACES. The organization currently focuses on programs that support underprivileged children in the Washington, DC, and Oakland, CA, metropolitan areas.
The versatility Alexander shows on the football field is reflected in the wide range of services offered by his foundation.
"We offer enrichment programs and different services to provide opportunities for youth,” Alexander said. “We do a scholarship fund. Last year, we gave $4,000 to two different kids in Washington, DC, that needed scholarships, we partnered with Target to give backpacks and school supplies to 100 kids … and now we're just starting to branch out to have some programs that are a little more stable and year round."
The ACES foundation also offers youth athletic camps, and is expanding its nationwide efforts by partnering with former Redskin Ade Jomoh and One Economy, a non-profit organization focused on improving computer literacy in low-income areas.
The Ride to Provide event is one of the primary annual fundraising events for ACES. Alexander, who stands about 6-foot-1 and weights 260 pounds, only recently began cycling at the suggestion of teammate and best friend Kedric Golston. The two witnessed the success of area cycling events through their involvement with the Tour de Cure, and decided to parlay the popularity of cycling in Ashburn into a fundraising event.
So what kind of tricked out bike does an NFL star ride?
"I have a hybrid Trek,” he said referring a high-end line of bicycles. “It's pretty cool, I get what I need to get out of it."
Despite his prowess on the football field, Alexander is not afraid to admit his limitations on a bike.
"Every now and then I'll have somebody that is 60 or 70 fly by me, and they've got this nice road bike, titanium frame, light as a feather,” he said.
Saturday's Ride to Provide event offers something for everyone. Food, music and video games for the kids will be provided, and there will be opportunities to mingle with the Redskins and other DC area celebrities, such as Washington Post columnist and commentator for 106.7’s The Fan Mike Wise. There will also be raffles for great prizes such as hotel packages at Lansdowne Resort, autographed Redskins memorabilia and a chance to sit in live with The Fan's "Sports Junkies."
Registration for the event is open to everyone, and can be made up until race time. The cost is $50 for adults, $25 for children (additional children are $20), and $100 for families. Riders can choose 10-, 20-, or 35-mile rides along the W&OD Trail that begin and end in Reston, with stops in Ashburn and Leesburg. Those not interested in taking part in the bike ride are still encouraged to attend the event.
For additional information on Ride to Provide and to donate or register, please visit www.ridetoprovide.org. For additional information of the ACES foundation, please visit http://www.lorenzoalexander.org/. Alexander is also on Twitter, @onemangang97.