By Zach Chouteau
Recent first-round NFL draft pick Takkarist “Takk” McKinley of the Atlanta Falcons, a former football star at Kennedy High, welcomed an outpouring of friends, fans and family today at a Richmond ‘Meet & Greet’ that also shared some upbeat news.
First and foremost, McKinley will be selecting For Richmond—host of the event held at 921 Marina Way South—as his official charitable organization of choice, and will work with the community-minded nonprofit to give back to the area in numerous ways. For Richmond has also created a special annual scholarship in the name of Takk’s late grandmother Myrtle Collins that will provide $5,000 toward the collegiate pursuits of a Kennedy High School student-athlete.
Also of note was an announcement by City Councilmember Jael Myrick that July 14 is being officially designated as Takk McKinley Day in Richmond. In addition to Myrick, the celebration also featured brief speeches by For Richmond Executive Director Kyra Worthy, McKinley’s agent, some former coaches at Kennedy High, an Atlanta Falcons representative and WCCUSD Board Member Madeline Kronenberg.
DJ music added to the vibe at the Artisan Cove event, which was held both indoors and outdoors and featured exceptional barbecued eats by KC’s Barbecue of Berkeley. In addition to giving a short speech thanking everyone for their support, McKinley chatted with guests, gave interviews to various media members in attendance and signed clothing and other items for some of the younger attendees.
“For me it’s bigger than football,” McKinley stated during his remarks. Saying youth violence in Richmond has “touched his heart,” he expressed a desire to make a positive difference.
“There’s got to be a way for us to change the community and get kids to college,” McKinley added. “We’ve got to find a way.”
McKinley also announced that as part of his efforts in Richmond, he would like to sponsor trips for Kennedy High School students in Richmond to attend UCLA football games, where Takk shined as a defensive standout before being drafted by the Falcons.