Tim Lelito is all about giving back to the community.
The New Orleans Saints offensive lineman and St. Clair alumnus has made that clear over the last few years with his free annual football camps. But now, he’s looking to take it a few steps further, and he did so by teeing it up at the first annual Legacy Classic at St. Clair Golf Club on Monday.
The golf outing, which boasted 13 foursomes, was to benefit Lelito’s Legacy LLC – his foundation he has been working on creating to help underprivileged youth. Whether it was helping out his NFL teammates with their own foundations or thinking of how his grandparents brought him up even after his mother’s tragic death, Lelito always knew he wanted to give back in some way.
“My grandma always did soup kitchens, and after my mom was murdered my grandma always did women’s battered shelters and stuff like that,” Lelito said. “My grandpa always donates to the soup kitchen in Detroit, and I just grew up with it. It’s the right thing to do.
“Why wouldn’t you help people in need?”
The event costs $125 per golfer, with the funds ready to go into the foundation once the legal ends are tied up and the paperwork is finalized. Lelito even admitted the process is longer than he thought, but nonetheless he can’t wait to start aiding kids in the Blue Water Area, especially with pay-to-play costs many schools have.
“What I want to do is help kids that aren’t able to pay that, and kind of make it a scholarship,” Lelito said. “Obviously there will be some contingencies. You got to keep the grade point average up … and my goal is to have tutors set up so they can get those good grades.”
Among the golfers in Lelito’s foursome was 2009 St. Clair alumnus Michael Laparo. While he opted not to talk about his round on the course, he talked about what it’s like to see his friend come back to help the community around him.
“It’s awesome,” Laparo said. “Coming from such a small place and seeing him come from a small place and thinking of all he does for the kids and the community, it’s a teaching moment for all of these kids to give back … it’s not high school straight to the NFL. It’s a process, and he’s showing these kids the right way.”
Lelito plans on doing the golf outing – and more events his teammates hold for their charities – in the future. While it’s his name on the foundation and his time being taken to run the football camps, he looks back to the city that made him who he is today.
“It’s completely true what they say – it takes a village,” Lelito said. “I’m so thankful to be from this village.”
Lelito Legacy Camp
The Lelito Legacy Camp is coming back for a third year, but the scenery will be different.
After two summers at St. Clair High School, the three-day camp will be at East China Stadium from Wednesday-to-Friday. No pads are required, and the camp runs from 8-11 a.m. for 4th-8th graders and from 1-4 p.m. for 9th-12th graders.
And, as it was in the first two years, the camp is free of charge.
“As long as I’m doing the camp, it will always be free,” Lelito said.
“Just because it’s an NFL hosted camp doesn’t mean you should have to pay for it. Same as the pay to play. I think it’s all about giving kids the opportunity to chase their dreams.”
Last summer Lelito had Saints running back and Heisman Trophy winner Mark Ingram and Saints Hall of Fame wide receiver Michael Lewis at his camp. He says while the schedule of an NFL player can change by the day, he does anticipate to have a few NFL players and former college players at his camp.
Along with the new location, another change to the camp will be USA Football’s Heads Up Football program being instilled in the camp to help with player safety.
“We’re going to work on tackling with the head up, using your hands instead of shoulder blocking or helmet blocking,” Lelito said. “But I’m really excited to start with the Heads Up program.”