June 27, 2023

7 Days in Rockford (3 minute read)

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By Pen Moodz

A week ago today I landed in the Rock, at the invitation of my brother, JD.

What transpired is difficult to put to words, but I’ll summarize it as follows.

What I experienced was the reception into family.

What I witnessed was a celebration of community.

What I felt was an undying pride of being from a city that’s often overlooked, but in place of that void of acceptance was the understanding that if one makes it, then WE ALL make it. The culmination of these sentiments are communicated through one leader, whose impacts are felt in every corner of Forest City.
Fred VanVleet.

The possibility of becoming more than your circumstance is evident in his example. Children sit wide-eyed in excitement to participate in his annual summer camp. To walk in his steps with the aim of one day realizing his success.

It takes a special type of person to make time for others when being pulled in so many directions for attention. His greatest gift is his presence and when he’s with you, he provides it undividedly.

My favourite part of the week was witnessing the celebration of community. As I type this, I have goosebumps running down my spine. Why? Because it’s incredible to see how one person can galvanize so many. The Fred VanVleet Ball was something to behold. Dressed to the nines the whole city united in peace to honour the joys of having a positive light finally shine on the diamond in the rough that is Rockford.
We smiled, we danced and we showed out. No one was too cool for the dance floor. I’ll forever look back on that night fondly.

Word to Drake, “Some nights I wish I could go back in life. Not to change sh*t, just to feel a couple things twice.” I can’t wait to do it again next year.

You Bet On Yourself, You Can’t Lose.

This mantra permeates throughout the family. From Momma Sue to Jr. From Shontai to Jade. From Doc to JD. From Quez to Dre. From Jordan to Billy. From Darnell to Aaliyah. From T to Z. From Pops to next in line Amir. The family moves as a unit of love. Remembering that times were not always like they are now. That the gift of today can easily be gone tomorrow, which is why giving back through the VanVleet Foundation is of the utmost importance. They say all roads lead to Rome, but for the initiated, all roads begin from the
Rock. I walk away as one of you.

Honoured to be your ambassador wherever my feet touch the ground.