Bengals star coming for food drive

Mar. 8—ASHLAND — With a "God-driven" mission in mind, men atop three organizations are bringing in a special host for a food drive at the Ashland Area YMCA.

Cincinnati Bengals starting cornerback Cam Taylor-Britt will talk about his JUICE (Join Us In Community Empowerment) foundation and meet and greet fans on Saturday, March 16, from 1-4 p.m. in the adult gym at the Y at 3232 Megan Neyer Way.

Event admission is free with a donation of five (or more) nonperishable food items. Taylor-Britt, who has played two seasons as a Bengal after a college career at Nebraska, will take photos with fans. He will also do autographs, as time allows — he has another engagement that evening.

United Way of Northeast Kentucky's Bridge Builders program has an instrumental role in this event. Participating schools — so far — are Fairview, Boyd County, Ashland Blazer and Greenup County High Schools.

"By the end of this, we will have basically been able to put enough food in every one of our school that no kid will go home hungry the rest of the year," said Marshall Tyson, UWNEK's CEO. "It'll even help with some of the summer programs because of this. Think about how awesome that is."

Taylor-Britt recently moved to northern Kentucky (Dayton in Campbell County).

Bo Wampler, owner of Vanguard Vision Training Center in Russell, was in Tyson's youth group at Greenup Christian Church several years ago. Wampler attended Shawnee State and then achieved his master's at Texas A&M. He studied kinesiology, exercise science and athletic training.

Through his sports science work, he's established connections with various professional teams and athletes, including Taylor-Britt.

"He's trying to establish himself in Kentucky," Wampler said of CTB. "This has become 100% bigger than I expected. ... After it was announced for a week, just on Instagram alone, the post had over 20,000 engagements.

"There's a school in Cincinnati that's filling up an entire school bus with food and bringing it down," he added. "They're bringing students down with them on another bus. I've had people from Pennsylvania and Washington, D.C., RSVP. Some of Cam's friends and family are flying from Alabama and Georgia as well. ... We gotta take care of these kids, and (Taylor-Britt) was more than willing to hop in and do this big event."

Scott Campbell, the Ashland Area YMCA's executive director, said his, Tyson's and Wampler's vision align.

"The Y is a great place to host these types of events, and we want to help the community and help the children, mainly," Campbell said. "It's about the kids, and how much we can get so these kids don't go hungry."

Hunger is a prevalent problem throughout northeastern Kentucky, Tyson said.

When he became UWNEK's CEO in January 2023, he hit the ground running, first working with family resource centers.

"The first day I met with them, and the No. 1 thing they said was students don't have enough food," Tyson said.

Bridge Builders — which is an official club, such as Beta or Key — consists of freshmen to seniors. They get to decide what kinds of events they put together, according to Tyson. So far, they've conducted coat, shoe and food drives. The club's tagline is "create, connect, unite."

Marathon and King's Daughters have helped bring in $30,000 for the March 16 event already, Tyson said. He is looking forward to seeing how successful it is, all told.

"This is a God-driven movement to help this community," Wampler said.

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