Warrick Dunn unveils program to help BR kids

BATON ROUGE, LA (WAFB) - Children in crime-ridden communities are getting the tools they need to change their lives for the better.

Former NFL great Warrick Dunn rolled into town to launch a new program to help them make the transformation.

Dunn grew up in Baton Rouge. It was a much different city when he hung up his jersey in 1993 at Catholic High School to go to Florida State University.

"Crime is at an all-time high. I think a lot of kids are dealing with a lot of trauma," Dunn said.

It was not a series of events that brought grief into Dunn's life. It was the murder of his mother, Betty Smothers, a former Baton Rouge police officer who was killed in the line of duty nearly twenty years ago. Dunn said he did not realize how much it impacted his life until he moved away.

"Going through counseling myself as a professional football player I think helped cultivate my thinking to come back to Baton Rouge where the need is growing," Dunn said.

Dunn said his teammates saw a difference. The football star has joined Baton Rouge city leaders who are fighting every day to make a positive impact on the streets. Dunn's charities rolled out a super-sized solution named "Betty's Hope", after his mother.

District Attorney Hillar Moore said Dunn's plan is on board with the city's plan.

"Our goal is common to stop the murders, violence in the city on the front lines," Moore said.

The lime green bus is a mobile grief center. Dunn said he is hiring counselors to help children who have been affected by crime, heal.

"Transportation in Baton Rouge is such a big issue. Most people can't get to the location we want to get them to," Dunn said.

Baton Rouge Police Chief Dwayne White believes it gives children more than just a sense of hope.

"(It gives them) someone to talk to so they can relate to and understand their grief and know that it's part of the healing process," White said.

The bus will be ready fully assembled in Ohio and return to Baton Rouge in September. Dunn and city leaders are still discussing where the bus will go first.

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