By Jaime Aron
Joe Burrow and Trevor Lawrence could’ve used some pregame advice from high school English teacher Shelly Parks … and her 7-month-old son Judah.
Hours before the College Football Playoff championship, Parks threw a football through a target with Judah in a carrier strapped to her chest. Her perfect strike helped generate a $125,000 donation from Smithfield Foods to Extra Yard for Teachers, the charitable arm of the College Football Playoff Foundation.
Parks, of St. Charles, Missouri, is her state’s Teacher of the Year. She was in New Orleans along with her fellow honorees from all states and territories as part of the Foundation’s celebration of K-12 educators.
Eckrich and its parent company Smithfield Foods offered $1,000 to EYFT for each shot that made it through the target. Going in alphabetic order by state, only one teacher had made it when Parks stepped up.
“If she makes it, it’s $2,000,” said John Pauley, the Chief commercial Officer, Packaged Meats for Smithfield.
Parks was among only three teachers to make it. The others were Marc Beitia of Idaho and Jeffrey Wheatcraft of Texas. Although only obligated to donate $3,000 – well, $4,000 – Pauley was in a giving mood.
“How about $25,000 for all y’all?” he said to another loud ovation.
Later, Kirk Herbstreit and Marty Smith of ESPN each got a throw that would’ve trigger a $1 million donation from Smithfield to EYFT. They each missed.
A second throw would’ve generated a $500,000 donation. They missed again.
“Trevor Lawrence and Joe Burrow, we are not,” Smith said.
Still, Smithfield officials wrote a check for another $100,000. After posing for pictures with Herbstreit, Smith and Smithfield executives, CFP Foundation executive director Britton Banowsky held the check above his head and showed it off to the Teachers of the Year, drawing one more round of applause.