FORT LEE, Va. — As the son of a career Navy officer, Alejandro Villanueva grew up on military bases worldwide, playing football and basketball among other sports.
That’s why today, as an offensive tackle for the Pittsburgh Steelers, Villanueva said he embraces his participation with youth football ProCamps as a way of giving back to a community he cherishes. This marks the fifth year P&G has run the NFL military ProCamps program at installations worldwide.
“Last year I did a camp at (Joint Expeditionary Base) Little Creek, Virginia, and that was a really cool experience,” said Villanueva, who served three tours in Afghanistan as an Army Ranger and is currently a captain in the Army Reserve. “In doing a camp for military kids I immediately saw the connection because I grew up on a military installation as well.
From March 27 to April 15, select commissaries worldwide will compete for a chance to be eligible to win one of the many NFL ProCamps for their installation. Winning installations will host a free, two-day football camp for up to 150 children – both boys and girls in first through eighth grade – of active duty military, reservists, retirees and DOD civilian employees.
Campers will learn from and play with NFL players like Villanueva, Andre Roberts (Atlanta Falcons), Jonathan Stewart (Carolina Panthers), Graham Gano (Carolina Panthers), Steve Smith Sr. (former Baltimore Ravens) and LeGarrette Blount (New England Patriots) among many others.
ProCamps events are awarded based on an installation’s commissary sales of designated Procter & Gamble products like Tide, Charmin, Head & Shoulders, Crest and Pampers, and customer votes online and through mobile texting. Patrons will see mass displays in participating commissaries.
ProCamps is part of P&G’s “Start Strong/Stay Strong” cause platform; it will also tie into DeCA’s “Month of the Military Child” promotion, said Sallie Cauthers DeCA’s marketing and mass media specialist.
“Service members and their families receive additional benefits from commissary shopping thanks to our industry partners, who provide millions of dollars annually in giveaways and promotional events such as ProCamps,” Cauthers said. “Through this event, our patrons get quality products at significant savings, while their children learn football fundamentals from some dynamic pro players.”
ProCamps manages and operates sports camps around the world led by professional athletes. These camps take place on military bases and teach the fundamentals of football, teamwork and how to make new friends, said Molly Fanning of ProCamps.
“This year we will be hosting camps across the United States, in Germany for the Kaiserslautern Military community and then in the Far East,” Fanning said. “To date we have executed more than 40 camps for military youth and are excited to continue to support military families through this program.”
“The ProCamps program allows us to celebrate and honor heroic, resilient and courageous military youth and their families while enabling us to partner with the commissary to execute on their mission of bringing the military community together,” she added. “This program helps promote living a healthy and active lifestyle which is important to all parties supporting this program. The commissary is truly the ‘heart’ of the community and so much more than a grocery store.”