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Former 'Canes in Heath Evans event

At least three former University of Miami stars will headline the third annual Heath Evans Foundation NFL vs. SWAT Softball Showdown charity softball game.

Former 'Canes Devin Hester, Jonathan Vilma and Calais Campbell are among the players expected to join Saints fullback Evans on Friday, February 18 at 6:30 p.m. at Roger Dean Stadium in Jupiter. It's possible that Jeremy Shockey and Jimmy Graham might also participate, according to Evans.

After the game, there will be an entertaining fireworks extravaganza produced by AFX Pro of New Orleans, which has also created spectacular displays for nine Super Bowls, as well as Saints home games and for the NBA’s Hornets and Thunder.

The game is open to the public. Admission is $10 for all seats throughout the stadium. The event will also feature a pre-game home run derby presented by the Palm Beach Marriott Singer Island Beach Resort and Spa.

Tickets are available on www.TicketMaster.com and at the Roger Dean Stadium box office, the spring training home of the Florida Marlins and St. Louis Cardinals.

Other NFL players scheduled to play include Garrett Hartley, Anthony Hargrove and David Thomas of the Saints as well as several NFL players with South Florida ties, such as Abram Elam (Cleveland Browns), Pierre Garcon (Colts), Alphonso Smith (Lions), David Clowney (Panthers) and Jarrett Brown (Browns).

Proceeds from the game will benefit the not-for-profit 501(c)(3) Heath Evans Foundation, which is dedicated to fostering hope and healing in the lives of children and families affected by sexual abuse.

“I’m honored and proud that many of my NFL friends and teammates will participate in the softball game,” said Evans, who recently completed his 10th NFL season and second with the Saints.

“It will be a fun game for the players and the fans and we’re raising money for a good cause, one that my wife, Beth Ann, and I strongly believe in,” said Evans, who grew up in West Palm Beach, graduated from The King’s Academy in 1997 and attended Auburn. Evans will be inducted into the Palm Beach County Hall of Fame in late March.

The NFL team rallied to beat the SWAT team 13-12 in last year’s game and Evans said he is planning to win for the third straight year.

Evans is very serious about the foundation that bears his name. Started in 2006 to help children who have been sexually abused, it’s something Evans learned about firsthand because his wife was a victim of sexual abuse as a child.

“Being in the NFL gives me a platform to bring attention to a cause that doesn’t receive a lot of attention,” said the 6-foot, 250-pound Evans. “When people hear about it and learn more about it, hopefully they become motivated to help sexually abused children and their families.”

One in four girls and one in six boys is sexually abused before the age of 18 in Palm Beach County, according to Evans. More than 75 percent of victims are abused by a family member or someone they know.    
       
Evans said the foundation provides access to a variety of programs, treatments and services, including free counseling to childhood sexual abuse victims and their families.

“The softball game is another way to bring attention to this problem, and it’s a big fundraiser for us,” said Evans. “We’re excited about joining with the SWAT team to host a wonderful family event for the entire community. We want to make Palm Beach County the safest place for kids to grow up.”

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