Philadelphia Eagles linebacker Connor Barwin put together the perfect combination of his two loves – football and music – for a great cause and also included the people who inspired him the most, his parents.
Barwin’s MTWB (Make the World Better) Foundation to help inner city children will kick off its inaugural fund raiser, a benefit concert, June 20 at Philadelphia’s Union Transfer.
Included in the concert will be 2013 “Philly Artist of the Year’’ Kurt Vile, The Tontons and The Districts. An hour before the music begins, there will be a meet and greet of the participating musicians and Barwin and several of his Eagles teammates including the 2013 rushing champion LeSean McCoy, linebacker DeMeco Ryans, center Jason Kelce, guard Todd Herremans, linebacker Najee Goode, cornerback Bradley Fletcher, linebacker Mychal Kendricks, linebacker Trent Cole, cornerback Cary Williams, defensive lineman Bennie Logan and tight end Brent Celek, whose restaurant Prime Stache will cater the event.
All proceeds from the concert will be donated and matched by MTWB (which are also his parent’s initials Margaret Thomas and Williams Barwin) for the revitalization project at Ralph Brooks Park in South Philadelphia.
The renovation will include a new state-of-the art basketball court, safe and well-lit play areas, an urban farm and a mural by renowned local artist Steve Powers.
“I always wanted to start a foundation,’’ Barwin, who spent his first four years with the Houston Texans before signing with the Eagles in 2013, said. “I’m 27 years old. I signed a long-term deal here in Philly. I feel I’m going to be here a while, so it was time.
“The name is Make The World Better, MTWB, but it’s also a acronym for my parents’ names Margaret Thomas, William Barwin. The whole thing is about involving athletics, involving the art community and that’s something my parents stressed my entire upbringing. They wanted us to play instruments. They wanted us to play sports.’’
Connor played the drums, but admits he wasn’t very good. He was good in athletics, playing both basketball and football at the University of Cincinnati. And he has made a nice career in the NFL as a three-down linebacker, who can cover as well as rush the passer.
Now, he wants to give back to places he saw as a child and still sees today that need a little help.
“My dad was a city manager, so we were always very involved in the community,’’ he said. “That’s the idea of how the foundation began. I grew up going to an after school program in Detroit. I went to a private school in Detroit, but my dad sent me to an after-school program where none of the kids from my school went to, just because the level of basketball competition was just so much higher.
“Those coaches from when I was nine all the way to when I was 16 were very influential in my life. A lot of the kids that were in that program were as well. Those are the places I want to help, that’s where I want to make the biggest impact. So that’s where my foundation is helping inner city kids.’’
Barwin noticed the status of Ralph Brooks on his way to work every day at the Eagles’ NovaCare Complex, also in South Philadelphia.
“I ride my bike by (the park) on my way home every day,’’ he said. “There’s so much potential there, but it’s sad the type of court they have to play on and the way it is.’’
So with the help of some of his favorite musicians, he’s going to get to work to raise some money and have the “new’’ park ready to go next spring.
“It’s a local park, it’s local musicians, a local athlete and it’s at a local venue,’’ Barwin said. “When you do it like that, well that’s the vision I had. And then when you can get someone like Kurt Vile, a big-time artist, to donate his fee.’’
Barwin is excited as the event nears. It’s almost like opening day of the season.
“I’m so psyched,’’ he said. “I’m a big music guy. I love music. Who doesn’t? And the talent we have is awesome; and then to take that money and help build a park, and build a basketball court. There’s a level of excitement.’’
The real payoff, however, comes next year.
“The special moment is when we open the park next spring,’’ Barwin said. “This is the first real event, but the goal is to have a tangible project every year.’’