Philadelphia Eagles coach to speak at First Priority golf tourney/auction

By HASKEL BURNS,

During the past several years, First Priority of South Mississippi has had the good fortune to have several high-profile sports figures – including Lou Holtz and Dabo Swinney – speak at the yearly Golf Tournament and Live/Silent Auction to help raise funds for the organization.

Another big name will take the stage this year, when Philadelphia Eagles head coach and Super Bowl LII champion Doug Pederson will headline the 20th annual event, scheduled for 6 p.m. March 28 at Temple Baptist Church’s recreation building on Old Highway 11 in Hattiesburg. Pederson will share his stories of family, faith and football with First Priority, which is a non-profit national ministry dedicated to equipping, empowering and encouraging students to impact their school campuses for Christ.

“We’re not one of those non-profits that have (a fundraising event) every other week or month, so this is a big event every year,” said Dr. JD Simpson, who serves as executive director of First Priority of Southern Mississippi. “The last two years have been a lot better with the economy, but it’s our biggest fundraiser for the year.”

The auction will feature several autographed items, including a pair of wrestling boots from Hulk Hogan, a guitar from Hank Williams Jr., a jersey from Drew Brees and a Spider-Man poster from Stan Lee. Other items include a three-night stay in Gulf Shores, Lasik gift certificates and fishing trips. Food will be catered from Hattiesburg restaurants Patio 44 and Cotton Blues.

 Pederson, who played backup quarterback behind Brett Favre for the Green Bay Packers, will speak after the auction.

“It’s always a blessing to see who we end up with (as speaker),” Simpson said. “Actually, when Pederson was a player, he was one of our first speakers back in the early 2000s. So I just thought it would be apropos to have him here at our 20th, now that he’s gone full circle from a player, to a high school coach, to a Super Bowl-winning coach. And he graciously accepted that invitation.”

The golf tournament will be held at Canebrake Country Club with two tee times: noon on March 28 and 8:30 a.m. on March 29.

Tickets for the auction are $50 each, while sponsorship packages for the golf tournament run from $350 to $4,000. Tickets can be purchased online at www.fpsouthms.org, and auction items can be viewed and bid on at www.bidpal.net/fpms.

“There will probably still be tickets available at the door, and we’ll have them at the office, but everybody likes to do it electronically,” Simpson said. “If they want to do meet-and-greet or get a ball signed, the price goes up a little bit, but we’ll have a limited number of those packages.”