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Bleacher Report – Vikings

Vikings linebacker raising the bar with scholarships for single moms

By Derek Wetmore

EDEN PRAIRIE, Minn. — When Anthony Barr was about four years old, he lived in his grandparents’ house with his mom, Lori, who was working two jobs and going to school to further her education.

She’d get home at night after the morning shift, classes, and her other gig, probably spent. Mom and son had their nightly ritual.

“She used to work at a spaghetti restaurant,” Anthony Barr says, “and she had to wear these big old black combat boots. And it was our routine: she would come home and I would unlace her shoes for her, take them off, take her socks off and rub her feet a little bit. That was like our little moment. We hadn’t seen each other all day, so we just talked and caught up on the day.”

Barr recalls the story vividly. It’s a sweet sentiment. One juxtaposed by the fact that he’s grown to become one of the most physically imposing 24-year-olds you’ll meet. He’s grown to become a speedy and hulking strongside linebacker for the Vikings, a centerpiece to a defense expected to be one of the best in the NFL this season.

At the time, he says, nothing seemed like a struggle, but in retrospect, they might have been difficult times for Lori Barr, raising her son as a single parent while going to school. That’s a big reason why Barr and his foundation – Raising the Barr – are now working to give single-parent households a better chance at continuing education.

The first scholarship recipient is Natasha Redeagle of Redby, Minn. Mom and her three kids will be Barr’s guests of honor at the home opener as the Vikings host the Packers in the first official NFL game at U.S. Bank Stadium.

Congratulations to Natasha Redeagle of Redby, Minnesota who is the first recipient of the Raise The Barr Scholarship.

— Anthony Barr (@AnthonyBarr) September 8, 2016

So honored to share in this journey with this amazing single mom and her three kids!

— Anthony Barr (@AnthonyBarr) September 8, 2016

Through his foundation, formerly known as the Anthony Barr Foundation, they’re providing scholarships to qualifying families in need, and primarily focused on single mothers. They’re giving Natasha $8,000 worth of aid, which includes help with tuition and child care.

“I was excited and nervous [to offer first scholarship]” said Lori Barr, Anthony’s mom. “To be able to share that with somebody and just walk through that journey … It was like we’ve kind of come full circle.”

“It was like, ‘wow, look where we are and look what we get to do.’ To share this experience, it was very emotional. [Natasha] was choked up,” Lori Barr said, “I was choked up. Anthony was very excited. She might have shed a tear or two.”

Anthony Barr was born in Indiana but moved with his mom and grew up in the Southern California area, because that’s where her support system was. Her parents, John and Jean, welcomed Lori and Anthony into their home. Anthony said his father was in the picture at one point, but as Barr aged, the communication faded. His maternal grandparents, however, were a big help to Lori, Anthony, and his younger brother, Nicholas, who is now a sophomore in high school in California.

Lori raised Anthony and Nicholas while completing an assortment of degrees, including a Master’s degree in Counseling of Psychology from Loyola Marymount University. That’s also where she got her Bachelor’s degree and where she began work toward her Doctorate (Social Justice of Educational Leadership). She put that on pause to focus on her two sons, but she said she intends to go back to school to finish her doctoral studies in the near future, maybe when Nicholas finishes high school.

Education is important to her, and Anthony Barr said his mom always set him up for success and “wouldn’t let me slide” in school. “I tried, but she wouldn’t let me,” he joked.

Once Anthony Barr achieved some notoriety and earned some good money in the NFL, he said it wasn’t hard to figure out where to give back.

“You go immediately to what affects you the most. So you look at your family and see the needs there,” he said. “Are there things you can do to help make their lives easier? Because they were an instrumental part of my life and my growing up, so it only feels right to do something for them.”

“I just grew up in an environment, single-parent household, just experienced everything first-hand, how hard it was for my mom,” he said. “At the time I didn’t really think it was hard for me because that was just what I knew. But looking back I guess you could it could be difficult not having your mom around all the time. It was just something I felt inspired to do because I lived it. I wanted to provide opportunities for the next person.”

In June the foundation put on a fundraiser dinner in El Segundo, Calif. That was step one in what the Barrs expect to be a long and fruitful journey, all from an idea hatched at the kitchen table. The next part of the dream will start to feel more like a reality Sunday, when Natasha and her kids get to hang out in the bright new windowed stadium the Vikings now call home.

After that, Raise the Barr will host another fundraiser, likely in early November, to help raise money. While Anthony Barr has roots in Southern California, he’s a member of the Vikings now, and he wants it to be clear that his generosity will extend to Minnesota, as well. They’re teaming up with a couple local charities – the Jeremiah Project and Emerge – both of which help support single moms in higher education, Lori Barr said.

Thank you Jeremiah Project, Minneapolis for hosting us. Happy to be a part of your efforts to support single moms.

— Anthony Barr (@AnthonyBarr) July 22, 2016

Had a great visit with Becca Erickson & the mothers from “Emerge” in Minneapolis. We are here for you ladies! #ABF

— Anthony Barr (@AnthonyBarr) July 22, 2016

Lori Barr is actively leading the foundation – the “point person,” Anthony called her – and she’s not hiding the fact that she’s an “extremely” proud mom.

“It’s very close to our hearts; it really matters to us to be able to see these moms’ drive,” she said. “And having lived through it, it means something to us.”

The post Vikings linebacker raising the bar with scholarships for single moms appeared first on 1500 ESPN Twin Cities.

Source:: 1500 ESPN Sportswire

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