Reggie Berry

A football player doing the same thing for 30 years isn't something that happens often, but Long Beach's Reggie Berry can make that claim.

Berry, who played for Long Beach State, then the San Diego Chargers, founded Goals For Life in 1989 — 30 years ago. Since that time, he has convinced many of his NFL friends to help him give students a playbook of approaches to succeed in life.

Berry completed a physical Goals For Life Playbook in 2008. The 200+ pages notebook offers materials and tips to walk people through a 24-week course of goal-setting.

Other former NFL players go into classrooms and assemblies armed with the playbook and training. Berry has tapped the NFL Retired Players Association, where he was a board member, and personal relationships to bring on more than 100 players over the years.

Using the players helps grab the students' attention, Berry said, but it takes a program to actually help them.

"We connect academics and sports," he said. "For us, there's no such thing as can't. You can do anything you want to do if you set goals, and are willing to do the work to get there."

Berry stressed that Goals For Life is for all students, not just "the at-risk kids." He said his program is in eight or nine schools in Norwalk, Compton and Los Angeles, and that he is looking to get back into Long Beach schools.

"We touch at least 1,000 kids a year," he said. "That's in both classes and assemblies. And it's all about setting goals.

"It's amazing how a pat on the back can cause a great change of attitude. That's what we try to do."

On Sunday, Sept. 15, Berry and around 25 former NFLers will be at the center of a fund-raising dinner on the Long Beach waterfront. The party starts at 6 p.m. at the Rainbow Harbor Pavilion, next to Gladstone's at the Pine Avenue Pier. The 30th anniversary will make the event special, Berry said. He and Steve Murow, board chair, will receive achievement awards.

There will be wine tasting, music and dinner at the event, along with a silent auction heavy with signed NFL memorabilia. Tickets are $125 per person.

For tickets, sponsorship opportunities and more information about the program, go to goalsforlife.net or call Pam Hope at (714) 603-3073.

Harry Saltzgaver can be reached at hsalt@gazettes.com.

Harry has been executive editor of Gazette Newspapers for more than 26 years. He has been in the newspaper business for more than 35 years, with experience on both weekly and metropolitan daily papers in Colorado and California.

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