he Bears' Matt Forte helped coach the Tilden High School football team at Fuller Park Thursday. | Rich Hein~Sun-Times
Much to the unexpected delight of the Tilden student body, Chicago Bears star running back Matt Forte was a huge hit at the Duracell "Trust Your Power" program Thursday at Tilden.
Former board of education basketball coordinator Cyrus McGinnis, who is the athletic director and boys basketball coach at Tilden, contacted the program a while back and Tilden was selected by the company, which selects one school per state to sponsor.
Forte shocked Tilden and it was game on. Tilden received a powerful donation and message. The donation included athletic equipment, sports wear, a defibrillator and flashlights. Forte spoke to the surprised school assembly about how to set your goals and achieve them. He also spoke of the importance of having a backup plan and emphasized how even though he knew he wanted to be a professional football player at a very early age, it did not prevent him from obtaining a degree in finance from Tulane University.
Not only did Forte speak at the assembly, but he attended several classes and ate lunch with members of the football team. Auguster Reed, a defensive tackle on the football team, said it was a day he will never forget.
"Things like this don't happen here every day,'' Reed said. ''For him to come here and be with us is something that I will never forget.
''One thing that I will also remember about him was how sincere he was while he was talking to us. An adult came and asked him would he take a picture while we were having lunch and he told them that he didn't mind doing it if they were willing to wait but right now he was with the kids. That made all of us feel super special."
After school ended Forte went with the team to Fuller Park to watch the team practice and offered some more words of encouragement.
"It was very important for me to come to a school like Tilden that is struggling and trying to get on the right track," Forte said. "I just wanted to let them know how much they mattered and that there are people who really care. It is up to them to continue moving in the right direction."
McGinnis also brought in the Board of Education's football coordinator Mickey Pruitt, a former Chicago Bear, and Dempsey Norman, one of Tilden's all-time great football stars and a former all-stater in the 1980's.
"Our principal (Marcus Sweeney) is a great visionary and together we plan to do everything we can to make Tilden a great example for the entire state of Illinois," McGinnis said.