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NFL Hall of Famer Andre Reed visits Yellowstone County Boys and Girls Clubs

andre reed.jpg
Posted at 5:55 PM, Apr 24, 2024

Hall of Fame NFL wide receiver Andre Reed visited the Yellowstone County Boys and Girls Clubs Wednesday to share his story.

Reed, who ended up playing in four Super Bowls with the Buffalo Bills, relied heavily on his local Boys and Girls Club growing up and attributes much of his success to that support.

"You know, I'm a club kid and have been all my life," Reed said. "I just want to put myself in their shoes, because at one point, I was in their shoes."

Reed said his goal is to visit a Boys and Girls Club in all 50 states. Currently, he's been to 48 of them with Yellowstone County being his most recent trip.

"There's a direct correlation to what I've done, to what I'm doing now, and all the in between stuff because of being affiliated with the clubs," Reed said.

Andre Reed reading

Reed said that he learned how to read at his local club, and that he oftentimes would be forced to leave when it was closing time not wanting to return home. His upbringing much like many of those club members now.

"I vowed that I'm going to be that voice for them, so I can tell these kids all across the country that I was you at one point," Reed said.

That's why Teen Services Director Juanita Sanchez was so excited when she heard that Reed was coming to speak.

"I think that it can just be an encouraging time for these kiddos to see someone who started potentially in a similar way that they did," Sanchez said.

Reed is in town this week as the keynote speaker at the Billings Chamber of Commerce annual breakfast held Thursday morning at MetraPark.

A big part of Reed's foundation is the Read with Reed 83 Program. On Wednesday, he shared the children's book that was written about him.

"When Andre is talking to them about his story growing up, they seem to relate to him in different ways," Sanchez said.

Current employee Bayleigh Ruff is among those that relates to Reed. Ruff grew up in the clubs in Billings, before being hired on to help nearly five years ago.

"It was just the feeling of it basically being a home," Ruff said of her initial feelings towards the Club. "There was no judgment or anything like that."

Ruff said it's great to see a success story like Reed for both her and the kids.

"I think it's really going to challenge their minds to be like, 'I can do this. I can do that,'" Ruff said. "That's something nowadays that kids really need."

And Reed said that's the exact message he hopes to spread, one of support and love, for those that need to hear it.

"We are here because we want to be here as a staff," Reed said. "They want to make you better and they want to make sure you have a chance in life to be anything you want to be."