Former Wildcat Hall gives back
Former NFL player, Blue Springs grad provides food, fun for local children
Deiondre Hall sat behind a table outside of the clubhouse at the Autumn Place Apartments in Blue Springs, which are just a bit farther away than a booming punt from Peve Stadium, where the Blue Springs High School grad earned all-state recognition in football and track and field.
Hall looked at his watch, chuckled and said, “It’s 5 o’clock, get ready for the rush.”
He was right, as youngsters approached him from the north, south, east and west sides of the apartment complex.
Hall had photos to sign, a member of his Hall for One Dream Foundation was manned with a Polaroid camera and 100 sack lunches were lined up on the table in front of him for anyone who asked.
The children were patient, excited and buzzing about the opportunity to meet a former NFL player who came from their hometown.
“This is the biggest thrill of my life,” said 11-year-old Devin Miller Criswell, who was sporting a GAME ON sweatshirt, which proved to be a bit prophetic as Hall soon joined the youngsters in a game of football keep-away. “When I heard Deiondre was going to be here I got so excited. I couldn’t wait to meet him. And he was so nice and cool to all of us.”
Syron Lewis, 12, said his older brother, Rayvon Lewis, played football at Blue Springs and talked about what a great player Hall was.
“I play football and I want to be as good as my brother and Deiondre,” Lewis said. “This is just so cool. We got to take our pictures with him and get some food and autographs.”
Ten-year-old Tayvon Criswell was one of the first youngsters to meet Hall, and he soon returned with his friends.
“My friend told me about it and I was so excited,” Criswell said. “The best part was Deiondre was so cool with all of us. And we got some good food – a sandwich and Granola bar and a banana in our lunch. He’s really nice for doing this.”
This small event was one of the first Hall and his foundation have planned for Eastern Jackson County.
“We had a lot of other events planned for the summer, but we couldn’t do them because of the pandemic, so we’re thankful this one was so successful,” said Hall, a fourth-round draft pick of the Chicago Bears in 2016 after successful careers at Northern Iowa and Blue Springs. “The kids had a great time and so did I.”
Hall – who played three seasons with the Bears and Philadelphia Eagles and became a free agent after being waived by the Tampa Bay Buccaneers this summer – and his mother Rosie and members of his foundation spent two hours Wednesday night at the Blue Springs Community Services League, working with site coordinator Melodie Chrisman as they packed the lunch bags.
“Ms. Chrisman is something,” Hall said, laughing. “Man, she knew what she was doing and we had an assembly line going. It was great, knowing that we were going to feed some kids and make a small impact in our community.”
Hall’s mother watched with pride as her son played with the kids, signed autographs and made them feel special.
“Every mother wants her son to be a great man, to be a giver, and Deiondre is that type of man,” said Rosie, who is president of his foundation. “You can tell he’s having as much fun as the young boys who are coming to meet him.”
When she was told that one of the children said it was the biggest thrill of his life, she teared up.
“That brings tears to my eyes,” she said. “That is so sweet. I’m so proud of Deiondre and the man he has become.”
Hall just shook his head when the comment was relayed to him.
“Really?” he asked. “And all I did was show up. Man, that makes me feel so good. I have a platform and I’m going to use it to help people – a lot of people – in Blue Springs and the metro area. This is just the start.”