Reading (May 11, 2011) – NFL Players John Gilmore and Chad Henne are gearing up to make a difference for Berks County’s children this summer with a slate of activities that range from a summer camp in Reading’s Sixth Ward to the complete overhaul and rehabilitation of two local playgrounds in two days.

“We started the Gilmore | Henne Community Fund at Berks County Community Foundation to make sure kids from our hometown have safe, clean parks to play in,” Gilmore said. “We work hard to include the neighbors in the planning, rehabilitation, and maintenance so that we’re not just rebuilding parks, but we’re building communities as well.”

Gilmore and Henne are taking advantage of the current NFL labor stoppage to set their local summer programs in motion. They would normally spend the spring months in football-related team activities and training.

“This year, we’re building on the success we had last year at Second and Oley playground,” Henne said. “The park there looks great, but more importantly, the neighbors are taking care of it and making sure it stays a safe place for kids to play. Our program is working. The more parks we’re able to fix up, the better it will be for the kids.”

Highlights of this summer’s activities include :

Summer Camp at Second and Oley: The Gilmore | Henne Community Fund’s first project was the rehabilitation of the Second and Oley playground in Reading last year. Beginning June 14, with help from interns and volunteers, the fund will run an eleven-week day camp for children ages 12 and under from the neighborhood.

Rally for Recreation Comedy Showcase and Benefit presented by FROMUTH: On June 24, the Rally for Recreation Comedy Showcase and Benefit presented by FROMUTH will once again transform the Sovereign Performing Arts Center into a multi-level night club with comedy, food, music, and all-star entertainment. The Rally for Recreation is the primary fundraising event for the Gilmore | Henne Community Fund, with net proceeds providing grants for park renovations and summer programs. Tickets for the Rally for Recreation are available at the Sovereign Center box office or via Ticketmaster.

2 Parks in 2 Days: On July 9th and 10th neighborhood volunteers will converge on Barbey’s Park at Elm Street and Schuylkill Avenue in Reading and at the Temple Playground at Fire Alley and Euclid Avenue in Muhlenberg Township to clean, paint, and rebuild the neighborhood parks.

In addition to the activities listed above, the fund will hold neighborhood planning meetings leading up to the 2 Parks in 2 Days event.

“We’re lucky to have volunteers from within the communities where the playgrounds are located, as well as volunteers from local businesses, schools, and nonprofit organizations,” Gilmore said. “We’ve discovered that the old saying ‘many hands make light work’ rings true when it comes to creating safe, clean play areas for local kids.”

More information about the Gilmore | Henne Community Fund’s summer activities is available online at www.ghcommunityfund.com.


Berks County Community Foundation is a nonprofit corporation that serves as a civic leader for our region by developing, managing and distributing funds to meet existing and emerging community needs. The foundation currently manages nearly 400 funds valued at more than $50 million.

On July 9, volunteers will renovate Barbey’s Park at Elm Street and Schuylkill Avenue in Reading. The park is located in the Sixth Ward, which is one of the city’s most impoverished neighborhoods. The fund has partnered with the City of Reading to complete the rehabilitation. The Gilmore | Henne Community Fund will repair the middle and south part of the park, while the City of Reading will repair the far north part of the park. The City’s portion of the project will be completed by the fall.

“Every city needs people like John Gilmore and Chad Henne who are successful, inspirational role models who give back to their communities,” said Reading Mayor Thomas McMahon. “No community can do this alone in difficult economic times and we are blessed to have their energy and enthusiasm to help make our city all it can be. Even more importantly, they have enlisted the neighbors and youth to actively participate in maintaining the parks.”

On July 10, some of the same volunteers, along with children from the Second and Oley and Barbey’s Park neighborhoods, will pitch in to rebuild the Temple Playground in Muhlenberg Township. This park’s playground equipment was removed over the years due to safety issues and newer standards. With leadership from Neal McNutt of the Muhlenberg Township Parks Department, the renovation will include a new playground, mulch, basketball court resurfacing, painting, and new hoops, as well as some landscaping, and new picnic, seating and walking areas.

A community BBQ for the Temple Playground renovation will be held on May 22 from 4:00 – 7:00 p.m. People from the neighborhood are welcome to attend to find out more about the project and/or to volunteer.

“I can’t commend John and Chad enough. I would imagine, as NFL players, it would be very difficult not to get sucked into the vortex of ‘me, myself and I.’ How lucky we are to have athletes like this – guys who have not forgotten their past,” McNutt said.

“The residents of Temple have been asking for replacement playground equipment for the last couple of years and the timing of this project couldn’t be better,” he continued.

While many of the volunteers are park neighbors, the Gilmore | Henne Community Fund encourages local businesses to donate needed supplies. Several companies have already stepped up to donate their time and services to the park projects. These companies include :

  • Lee Olsen Design Group
  • Anewalt’s Landscape Contracting
  • Stackhouse Bensinger Inc.
  • Empire Group
  • Temple Recreation Association

Wilson High School graduates and NFL standouts John Gilmore and Chad Henne, co-founders of the Gilmore | Henne Community Fund, are back in action hosting the 2011 Rally for Recreation Comedy Showcase and Benefit presented by FROMUTH, on Friday, June 24 at 8 p.m.

This year’s comedy showcase stars Comedian Alex Smith, as seen on hit comedy shows like In Living Color, Martin, and the Jamie Foxx Show, and features a special performance by funny-man Pierre.

Following the comedy showcase, the night will continue with an After Party featuring music, dancing and activities with four unique party scenes on four different floors.

Tickets for the Comedy Showcase are $100 (plus facility fee and applicable taxes) and include access to the After Party. Tickets are on sale now at the Sovereign Center box office, all Ticketmaster outlets, and online at www.ticketmaster.com.

Doors: 7:15 p.m.
Show: 8:00 p.m.
After Party: 10:30 p.m. – 2 a.m.

In addition to Alex Smith, the Rally for Recreation will feature appearances by:

  • Sid Veda, comedian and Wilson High School graduate
  • Desmond Clark, Chicago Bears tight end
  • Power 99’s “Tazz Daddy” as Master of Ceremonies
  • Jeremiah “The AXE-MAN” Trotter, former Eagle’s All-Pro line backer
  • Lavar Arrington, All-Pro line backer and Penn State standout
  • Kristy Kowal, Wilson High School graduate and Olympic swimmer
  • Reading Phillies Dance Team
  • Wade Miller, former Major League Baseball pitcher
  • More to be announced*Special guests and entertainers are subject to change without notice

The Gilmore | Henne Community Fund of Berks County Community Foundation was established by NFL players John Gilmore and Chad Henne to provide grants to revitalize parks and recreational facilities in Berks County, Pennsylvania. In addition, the fund provides financial support for Berks County students who engage in scholastic sports, who maintain a respectable G.P.A, and who will continue their education at the collegiate level.

Why Parks?

“Clean and safe parks and recreation areas are key factors in maintaining healthy communities,” Gilmore said. “Beyond the physical activity that playing in a park provides, well-tended parks are safe havens for young people – places where friends are made, bonds are formed, and the imagination has no limits. Parks exemplify the culture of their particular neighborhood.”

Grants from the Gilmore | Henne Community Fund are aimed at doing more than cleaning up local parks, although they certainly provide that funding. The big picture is to strengthen neighborhoods by helping people who live in these neighborhoods reclaim their parks, while maintaining the positive activities that already exist. The parks will become sources of community pride and will be looked after by the neighbors in the area. In turn, this will create community ownership.

Specifically, grants from the Gilmore | Henne Community Fund:

  • assist with graffiti removal, maintenance, and upkeep of community parks
  • promote or host park programs
  • bring in guest speakers and/or model citizens to interact with children
  • keep a direct line of communication with designated community leaders who live near the parks
  • facilitate communication between local government and the community
  • build relationships with local and national companies for financial support
  • demand a standard of excellence in and around the community parks
  • promote healthy lifestyles
  • make the children its primary focus

Volunteer, sponsorship and donation opportunities, as well as information about events and projects are available online at www.ghcommunityfund.com. The Gilmore | Henne Community Fund is also on Facebook at www.facebook.com/gilmorehenne and on Twitter at www.twitter.com/gilmorehenne.

John Gilmore attended Holy Name High School in Reading and graduated from Wilson High School in West Lawn in 1997. He was named Associated Press first-team big school all-state and first-team all-county as a senior, and received the 1996 Wilson Male Athlete of the Year award. He was a four-year letterman at the Pennsylvania State University, where he received the Hall Foundation Award as the Nittany Lions Outstanding Senior. He was drafted by the New Orleans Saints in the 2002 National Football League draft, and quickly moved to the Chicago Bears where he played for six seasons. In 2008 he joined the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, where he plays tight end.

Chad Henne also graduated from Wilson High School in 2004, where he set the Pennsylvania District III all time passing and touchdown records. He moved on to play quarterback for the Michigan Wolverines where he was a four-year letterman. He graduated with school records for career completions, attempts, passing yards and touchdown passes. During the 2008 National Football League draft, he was the second round pick by the Miami Dolphins, where he plays quarterback.