Even though he is Baltimore-bred, LaQuan Williams couldn't help but feel empathy for a child who has been inspired by Indianapolis Colts quarterback Peyton Manning.
Introduced by the Abilities Network to a boy who, like Manning, underwent surgery on his neck, the rookie Ravens wide receiver found inspiration, too, and donated his time to the organization.
"He looked up to Peyton Manning, and to get through the surgery he thought about how Peyton Manning would react to what he was going through," said Williams, who has four catches in 11 games. "The kid didn't have any medicine, so I was like, 'Wow. I want to help these kids out.'"
Williams will host the Abilities Network's inaugural Holiday Basic Needs Drive — with Ravens nose tackle Terrence Cody joining him at the benefit event — on Tuesday at the organization's headquarters in Towson. Williams and Cody will sign autographs. There will be a silent auction hosted by Dugout Zone, a DJ and gift bags for the first 200 people in attendance.
The mission of the organization is to serve children, adults and families who are affected by problems ranging from mental and physical disabilities to socioeconomic disadvantages.
"There are a lot of special-needs kids that just need help with their disabilities, so I was down to help," said Williams, who starred at Poly and went on to play at the University of Maryland. "I just want to be part of the community and use my influence to help [others].
"You never realize the effect you can have on people until you go out and give them your time."
Between Nov. 15 and Christmas, Ravens players and cheerleaders will have participated in more than two dozen charitable events in the community. Last week, Williams joined Baltimore Mayor Stephanie Rawlings-Blake and a few of his Ravens teammates at a gift-giving luncheon for children in need.
"There's so much going on," Williams said, shaking his head.
Brent Connor, the co-founder and director of business development for TidePointe Advisors, the company that is hosting this week's event, said that it has been a pleasure to work with Williams.
"I've met LaQuan at events, and he is always engaging people," Connor said. "He's a nice guy, a high-character guy. He filmed a public-service announcement for us, too, and was very kind."
Admission to the event is free for those who bring at least one item from the Ability Network's "needs list," which includes clothing items, gift cards, bags of nonperishable groceries and hygiene products. (The list can be found at http://www.abilitiesnetwork.org.)
If you go
What: Holiday Basic Needs Drive with the Ravens' LaQuan Williams and Terrence Cody to benefit the Abilities Network
When: Tuesday, 5:30 p.m. to 8 p.m., 8503 LaSalle Road, Towson
Admission: Free when you bring at least one new item off the needs list
Details: Go to the Events Calendar at abilitiesnetwork.org, email firstname.lastname@example.org or call 410-828-7700 (ext. 1229)