Diego Varela met Ed Reed when he was a sixth grader at The SEED School of Maryland. He now attends Goucher College and is pursuing a career in law enforcement.
My face started to become a lot more familiar every year that I started to play in his [golf] tournament, and we kind of created a relationship. He was just an amazing guy and I always thanked him for all the things he did for our school and for me personally, going to some of these events and saying hello to some of my family members and my mentors. It was a great experience. It was definitely something that I will always remember. [Not everyone] has that experience, on a first-name basis with a Hall of Fame football player. Even just being able to go around and tell my friends and family about it when he came into the school and him being on the news, it was something that stuck out to a lot of people. It was nothing [short] of amazing, and I thanked him every time that I was able to participate in some of the events that he brought upon me from school and the golf tournament.
Just because of the neighborhood that I grew up in with a lot of my peers throughout the time, the type of neighborhoods we were from, we weren't used to people giving back, so for him to actually keep his word and do something like that on a year-to-year basis and make sure that our families had a meal for every Thanksgiving or even doing the training camps and making sure that the kids were healthy, it was something that each of us could obviously be grateful for. I'm from Baltimore City, so a lot of kids in general don't have the opportunity to see a Hall of Fame football player every year and actually build that relationship with him and actually travel and play in some of his golf tournaments and watch him play golf from year to year as well.
It was a motivating factor for not only myself but for a lot of the kids, being able to see that someone who has an extremely busy schedule throughout the season and was able to still have his own organization and fundraiser where he was able to give back to families, it was something that as a guy who's lived in Baltimore for over 20 years -- and I've been born and raised here my entire life -- that's definitely something I could do. So the motivating factor of it all was definitely on the extreme level. It was able to give us the visual for my peers and I to give back to Baltimore in general.
A lot of people may make that promise to come back every single year. "OK, he came this time, but we may not see him next year." Ed just actually kept his promise, and not a lot of people do that. It showed his personality and it showed what type of man and what type of father he is because he actually cared about the kids at the school. I saw Ed as basically like a brother to me. Sometimes he actually recommended -- him and Glenn [Younes] as well, his right-hand man -- for me to be [at his golf tournament]. To have your name in seventh or eighth grade or just going into high school and having people request that you come and play in their golf tournament, it made you feel like a big deal.
I still keep in contact with some of the guys and some of the girls that I graduated with. These small things that we may see or we may think that it's small because it's only once a year, but it makes an extreme impact on our lives. ... It was generally a younger man making these bigger differences in the city which he loves.