Standing within the same walls where he became a Penn State legend in the Fall of 1982, former Nittany Lion quarterback Todd Blackledge returned to Beaver Stadium Monday night as a guest speaker at the annual Young Life banquet.
Young Life welcomed over 300 guests to this year’s banquet, the largest turnout Young Life Area Director Brad Schmitt has seen in his ten-year tenure with the Christian youth organization.
Before the night’s distinguished guest took the stage, he was given a warm introduction from Dan Dupee, President of the Coalition for Christian Outreach.
“This is exactly the right person to be behind this lectern tonight,” Dupee said. “It’s not his accomplishments that made me want to call out to Todd, but his character.”
Blackledge, who managed to attend the banquet despite a hectic schedule as an ESPN college football analyst, said it was his “spiritual connection” to Penn State that brought him back Monday.
The former football star spoke very little of his athletic acumen, quickly shifting the focus to the banquet’s chief purpose: Young Life and the kids it affects in Centre County.
Blackledge described a “gap” for children in today’s society stemming from many young peoples’ inability to relate with role models who aren’t their age.
“Kids need to see something that’s real,” Blackledge said. “College students can provide relatability, stepping into the gap in kid’s lives.”
Young Life Centre County currently has 22 college-aged volunteers, a number Schmitt hopes to see reach 40 or 50.
Mirroring Schmitt’s sentiments, Blackledge encouraged people of all ages to better the lives of children.
“We have to take time out and give ourselves to these kids,” Blackledge said. “It’s time all people got behind [Young Life] and our kids.”