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Dolphins Team Helps Make Over Barbara Hawkins Elementary

Posted Oct 16, 2012

Whirlwind beautification project a hit at elementary school.


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Extreme Makeover: Home Edition has nothing on the Miami Dolphins after the entire team and Head Coach Joe Philbin completed a rapid-fire painting and landscaping project at Barbara Hawkins Elementary.

Under a hot sun and blue skies, all 53 players and Philbin kept their adrenaline going from this morning’s practice by planting flowers, spreading mulch, laying stones and painting the school’s Butterfly Garden. They also decorated the teachers’ lounge, all to the delight of the school kids, and rookie defensive end Olivier Vernon felt like he was going back in time having grown up in the same neighborhood.

“Whenever I rode the school bus I came right through this area,” said Vernon, who has never left South Florida having played his college football at the University of Miami. “It’s a great opportunity to put a smile on these kids’ faces considering I remember being their age and looking up to the Dolphins. It’s kind of surreal and it hits you because I’m wearing the uniform now and they’re running up to me asking me for autographs and asking me about Reggie Bush and my other teammates. That’s what I was doing at their age and now I can tell them to follow their dream and stay in the books and study hard.”

This is the second time since he took over as Head Coach that Joe Philbin arranged a trip like this to a local elementary school for the entire team. Back In June he took the players to Larkdale Elementary School in Lauderhill to do some landscaping.

During his time with the Green Bay Packers, Philbin participated in similar projects in the surrounding neighborhoods and he wanted to continue that tradition in Miami. There was an added element at play with Sun Life Stadium within view of the campus, so Philbin got to see an extra gleam in the eyes of the players and the kids.

“You can’t put a price tag on things like this. It’s a good experience for everybody,” Philbin said. “When I interviewed for the job I told Mr. Ross that we wanted to build a team that had great success on the field and wins championships, but just as important was we wanted to have men that were unselfish and willing to give back to the community and make a difference in people’s lives.”

There were plenty of local dignitaries on hand to witness the fun event and see the Butterfly Garden go through such a quick and dramatic transition. They took in the moment and were very thankful to the organization for taking the time to visit the school.

“This is about community and it shows them that they are the priority of the Miami Dolphins and the priority of Miami-Dade,” said Alberto Carvalho, Superintendent of Miami-Dade County Public Schools. “When the entire community shows up and elevates kids, literally and figuratively we all win, and today is Dolphin Day at Barbara Hawkins.

“The commitment from Mike Dee to ensure that ever month they’re going to rotate to a different school in the neighborhood of Miami-Dade, it just shows the dedication that this team has to the community. It’s also great to see a homegrown product like Olivier Vernon serve as an example of someone from their community who has made it.”

Carvalho was joined by County Commissioners Sally Heyman, Barbara Jordan and Rebecca Sosa and the Mayor of Miami Gardens, Oliver Gilbert. This is Jordan’s district, District 1, and she joined Carvalho in praising the Dolphins organization.

“I want to thank Coach Philbin for his leadership because without the leadership at the top it doesn’t have the trickle-down effect,” Jordan said. “And to come out to District 1, where the stadium s located, I can’t be more appreciative and I have to really pay my compliments to the Dolphins and the Dolphins franchise for really showing the community a different way to give back and reinvest in our young people.”

Bush and quarterback Ryan Tannehill were the most popular players among the kids, as they couldn’t enough of posing for pictures and getting autographs. This is just the second time this year that Tannehill has spread mulch, with the trip to Larkdale being the first, but he really appreciated the event. Growing up in Big Spring, Texas, he didn’t get that chance.

“I never had this luxury but I would have loved it,” Tannehill said. “Going to the college games I went to as a kid I looked up to those guys so much, so if I would have been able to experience the interaction with a college of NFL team it would have been great. It’s great to see the smiles on the kids’ faces and let them ask us questions and high five us. It’s great.”

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