Because of football and family obligations, Ben Watson doesn’t make it to his adopted home of Rock Hill as much as he would like.
Tuesday was a quick visit for Watson, flying from and to New Orleans so he won’t miss a workout with the New Orleans Saints.
Early in the day, Watson announced he was making a $10,000 endowment to the Rock Hill Schools Education Foundation. In the evening, the former Northwestern High School star was inducted into the York County Sports Hall of Fame.
Rock Hill, Watson said as he announced the endowment, “is a place where people really care about you, pray for you.”
It is where Watson starred for the Trojans before a college career at Georgia and then stops in the National Football League with New England, Cleveland and New Orleans.
Off the field, Watson and many of his Northwestern friends have families of their own. Watson has four children, and his wife Kirsten is pregnant.
To ensure those children and generations to come receive a good education, Watson and Kirsten, and his parents, Ken and Dinah, announced Tuesday the endowment to the Rock Hill Schools Education Foundation.
The gift from Watson’s “One More” Foundation and the Watson family foundation is the first endowed gift in the 26-year history of the Rock Hill Schools Education Foundation.
The schools foundation will invest the money and use the interest for educational grants. The foundation does not plan to touch the endowment funds.
Watson said the schools foundation’s needs were consistent with the goals of the “One More” Foundation – to touch people’s souls for Christ, one at a time.
“The seeds we plant here will be sent out in waves to other places,” Watson said after presenting a ceremonial check at the Rock Hill school administration offices.
Watson’s father, the pastor at Rock Hill Bible Fellowship Church, said Tuesday’s gift is “expected.”
Ken Watson said he taught his children from an early age that “God blessed them to serve others. This is not just for Benjamin.”
“He had that preached to him, but he has lived it too,” Ken Watson said. “He has a strong sense of loyalty and he loves Rock Hill.”
Northwestern principal James Blake said his students are taught that once they leave the school, they are encouraged to “give back in any kind of fashion they can.”
Watson’s gift to the education foundation, Blake said, “is genuinely him. That’s what he stands for.
“He’s a diamond, not a diamond in the rough. I wish all could be like him.”
Don Worthington • 803-329-4066