Virgen's View: Athletes First gives back with charity

Before Kenan Thompson ended his silly impression of Ray Lewis on Saturday Night Live before Super Bowl 47 the comic said what he would do if the Ravens beat the 49ers.

He said he would go to the 50-yard line of the Superdome, kneel down and ascend into heaven.

"I'm going through the roof, Seth," Thompson, acting as Lewis, told Seth Meyers on Weekend Update.

Lewis did have a fairy-tale-type ending, winning the Super Bowl in the final game of his career. But he hasn't ascended into heaven just yet.

He has other projects, that will most likely involve TV and motivational speaking engagements. For now, he'll be involved with a charity in Orange County and with Irvine-based Athletes First.

Lewis and several other football players will be a part of the 10th annual Athletes First Classic at St. Regis Resort, Monarch Beach Saturday night.

The event will benefit the Orangewood Children's Foundation in Santa Ana.

Brian Murphy, Athletes First's president and a Newport Coast resident, said the event will be a fun time and a great way to raise money for Orangewood, which provides programs and support for neglected children and at-risk families.

The Athletes First Classic is a dinner and ceremony that will honor Indianapolis Colts receiver Reggie Wayne and "Golden Heart Award" recipient Stephanie Argyros of Newport Beach.

Argyros has been heavily involved in charity with programs like Orangewood, as well as Children's Hospital of Orange County and the Assistance League of Newport-Mesa.

Colts quarterback Andrew Luck is scheduled to present an award to Wayne and Argyros' parents will also be a part of the program to honor their daughter, Murphy said.

The dinner, which will feature the athletes among the 800 in attendance, also includes a silent auction to raise money. There will also be a golf charity event.

Murphy said all the available foursome spots were sold out, and tickets for the dinner also sold out.

"The neat part is we have about 100 clients sitting at the tables and they add an exciting vibe to the night," Murphy said.

In addition to Lewis, Luck and Wayne, Jets quarterback Mark Sanchez, Packers linebacker Clay Matthews and Buccaneers running back Doug Martin are also confirmed to attend among several pro football players and former stars like Drew Bledsoe.

Murphy said the Classic is an important event for Athletes First.

"Our mission with Athletes First is that we put the athletes first," Murphy said. "You're not just helping the athletes on the field, but as people. One way is to give back to the community, using your resources to make a difference in the world. We started the Classic to give back … Charity is really high on our list and it's important to us. It's part of our joy to help."

Athletes First's relationship with Orangewood started about nine years ago, Murphy said. Back then, Athletes First had NFL Draft hopefuls train at their facility. Part of the training didn't just deal with technique, speed or strength.

The athletes also went to Orangewood to speak and offer inspiration to others, Murphy said.

Athletes like Lewis can offer great motivation for young people and those who are dealing with adversity.

Murphy and David Dunn took great pride in watching Lewis win the Super Bowl with the Ravens. Murphy said Dunn, the Athletes First CEO, met with Lewis shortly after the game. They shared a hug.

"To go out on top is a huge accomplishment," Murphy said. "After Ray and his family and his teammates celebrated, he moved on and knew it was time to go out and tackle his next chapter."

Part of that next chapter is this weekend in Orange County.

Twitter: @SteveVirgen

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