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Former college athletes and coaches will give new touch screen laptops and footballs to 20 youth of Huntsville area Gold Star families Dec. 22 during a special luncheon at the American Legion on Drake Avenue.

Darryl Fuhrman, president of Lettermen of the USA, said the group was awarded a $15,000 grant from the Alabama Coronavirus Relief Fund to purchase laptops for Gold Star children of Alabama’s military families to help with virtual learning due to the COVID-19 pandemic. He said the group was able to purchase 25 laptops that are being distributed at two different events Dec. 22.

“Being able to provide laptops for these kids who have lost a parent in service to our country has truly meant so much to our organization,” said Desmond Holoman, vice president of operations for the Lettermen group who was a linebacker for the Alabama Crimson Tide in the 1980s. “This is why we exist, to help those who are in need. These servicemen gave all, so giving their children a laptop is just our very small way of saying thank you.” 

Randy Ross, a former University of Alabama coach who currently serves as director of football operations at the University of Arkansas, and Secretary of State John Merrill will speak and help with presentations at both events.

Ross spent 17 seasons at Alabama including the last four as director of football operations. He was an assistant coach from 1993-96 under Coach Gene Stallings as well as the Crimson Tide’s recruiting coordinator from 1990-98. He then spent one season in Alabama’s development office before moving back to the football office in 2000 as the director of high school relations.

Prior to his time in Tuscaloosa, Ross was quarterbacks’ coach at Vanderbilt for three seasons. And before going to Arkansas, Ross spent 11 years at Southern Methodist University where he served as the senior associate director of football operations.

Ross was also Fuhrman’s high school coach before he went on to play for the Crimson Tide in the mid-1980s.

“Letterman of the USA is thrilled that the timing worked out perfectly to present the laptops to these families during the holiday season and are honored to make Christmas just a little brighter for these families who have suffered such a devastating loss,” he said.

The group is a national charitable organization of former college athletes, as well as active and former coaches who have teamed up to help serve and offer support for honorably discharged veterans, wounded veterans, and former college players in need to get back on track after facing hard times.  

On Dec. 22, the Lettermen will start out in Birmingham with a breakfast at the Shades Valley American Legion Post 134 in Homewood where five youths of Gold Star families will be presented laptops and footballs. Then Fuhrman and other Lettermen members will travel to Huntsville for the 1-3 p.m. event at the American Legion on Drake Avenue.

In addition to the laptop and football presentations this month, the group has focused on providing mobility aids to several disabled veterans in need over the past year.

Fuhrman said the volunteer-member network relies on donations to support its mission as members give back to its communities by volunteering and helping out with during natural disasters, helping feed the homeless at local shelters, supporting wounded veterans or simply giving an autographed football to someone who needs encouragement from one of their gridiron heroes.

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