Local News

Vick's experience resonates with Durham students

Posted February 26, 2010 11:51 a.m. EST
Updated February 26, 2010 6:25 p.m. EST

Former Atlanta Falcons quarterback Michael Vick spoke at New Horizons Academy in Durham Friday, Feb. 26, 2010, urging students not to get involved in dog fighting.

— Philadelphia Eagles quarterback Michael Vick spoke for about an hour Friday to a packed room at Durham's New Horizons Academy of Excellence.

The visit was part of Vick’s on-going speaking campaign, the payoff of a promise to the Humane Society of the United States.

Vick has been making the rounds, speaking to at-risk youth about dog fighting since his release from prison last year. He served time and lost two years of his NFL career after a conviction that he ran a dog fighting ring from a rural Virginia property.

“Because I was involved in what I call pointless activity and stupidity, pertaining to the dog fighting, I threw everything away,” Vick told the audience.

“I thought I was just having fun, engaging in an activity that we thought was right.

“It was cool and it was fun, but now when I think about it, it makes me sick to my stomach,” he said.

Vick’s message resonated with Jason McClairy, a 19-year-old quarterback for the Durham Raiders. McClairy attended the lecture in uniform, with some of his teammates.

Afterward, he told Vick he was a role model.

“I was kind of trying to follow in his footsteps,” McClairy said.

He purchased three pit bulls and considered fighting them. When he saw what happened to Vick, he decided not to make the same mistake.

“He was raising them, but he was raising them in the wrong way,” McClairy said.

Martina Dunford, director of New Horizons, invited Vick to speak because she said her students can relate to the value of the second chance he got. The students at the school, Dunford said, have struggled elsewhere.

“Our philosophy is that everybody deserves a second chance,” she said.