Former Cape Athlete creates opportunities for SWFL athletes to play, give back through Stingrays nonprofit football

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Florida Stingrays (WINK News)

When one Cape Coral athlete’s career came to an end, he started creating opportunities for others in our area to compete, succeed and give back.

“I grew up playing sports my whole life,” said Jay Lawrence. “I was actually an MVP baseball player at Cape Coral High School back in ’94. About two years later, I had a car accident that put me in a wheelchair.”

Florida Stingrays President and CEO Jay Lawrence (WINK News)

But that wheelchair won’t keep Lawrence from the game.

He’s now recruiting athletes to join his Florida Stingrays, a nonprofit minor league football franchise, from a field in Buckingham. But they do much more than play ball.

“We’re very dedicated to doing things in the community,” Lawrence said. “This Friday, we are going to read to kids at Bobby Neuman’s Academy, Sunday we took a group of foster kids to Dave & Buster’s; we do that once a month.”

He’s inspiring players to make an impact and not make excuses, motivating the next generation of athletes.

“He’s always here for everybody and it’s really great to see that even something so tragic that can happen to somebody can really turn into somebody being such a great person,” said Stingrays Captain Alan Phillips.

Florida Stingrays (WINK News)

“People look at him ‘cuz he’s in a wheelchair but his heart, his spirit…He just wanna watch guys grow, he wanna see guys be mature, he wanna see guys do successful things,” said Stingrays Coach Chris Morant.

It’s a scoring drive that gives back to his community.

“They’re like mentors for the kids,” Lawrence said. “A lot of our guys grew up tough and a lot of kids in the Dunbar community grew up in a tough situation and these guys are really good at connecting with kids like that.”

You can catch amateur football action this weekend at Evangelical Christian School in Fort Myers. The Stingrays kick-off against the Tarheels at 6 p.m. Saturday.

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