Alpena, Mich — The Lions Legends vs. Alpena All Stars basketball game is an instant classic for a great cause. Six former Lions made the trip to Alpena to help with the local Drug and Alcohol Resistance and Education (D.A.R.E.) program.
Scott Conover, Rod Rubick, George Johnson, Cory Schlesinger, Joique Bell, and NFL legend Herman Moore all took part in the fundraiser for the D.A.R.E. program.
“We all want to see the police when they’re in our neighborhoods but not when they’re on the roads because we think they’re going to pull us over,” said Rubick after the game. “But they do so much for our communities. This is us a chance for us to give back help D.A.R.E. raise money.”
The D.A.R.E. program was initially started in Los Angeles to help combat gang violence and substance abuse. It’s grown into a national program that allows specially trained police offers to educate children about drug and alcohol resistance.
“They get into the schools, educate kids, help with peer pressure and dealing with situations that arise over the next few years. When you take the kids early on in 4th, 5th, and 6th grade and work through the junior high and early high school level, you teach them good habits and good awareness.”
The game served as a fundraiser that allowed the former players to interact with fans of all ages and sign autographs. Many children will take away fond memories from the event. One young fan had a flex off with Schlesinger, while another fed Johnson popcorn to give him the strength to continue in the game. Each time the Legends drew a foul, a young fan was got the chance to take the free throw or be hoisted for a dunk.
The Legends won the game after switching from basketball to football for the final play of the night. Children aged 10 and under lined up to block for a young girl who ran across the backline for a touchdown.
One of the reasons the Legends continue to come back is because of the crowd. “We do 22 games every winter and this is one of the best crowds we get. They come out, they support the D.A.R.E. program, and they get into the game,” Rubick added.
Since his retirement from the NFL, Rubick has become a high school teacher and is a strong believer in the DA.R.E. program. He believes in the benefits and knowledge that the officers are able to share with their students.
“I teach health. I’ve worked with the D.A.R.E. officers for 22 years and they’re great. We have a liaison officer that comes and we work through. He is wonderful and in the past we’ve had a female officer and she was wonderful. And it’s an opportunity the kids love, especially the young ages. And it’s nice so they don’t fear the police. They get to understand that the police are for us. They’re your friends. They’re here to help us and protect us and it’s a great opportunity for young people to learn that.”
The game itself featured more highlights from fan interactions than from play. Moore showed some incredible range draining three’s, while Alpena junior Kelley Stark showed off his hops and added two dunks for the All-Stars.