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Springs, Kerrigan Host ‘Heart Of Gold’ Event

Posted Dec 2, 2014

Former Redskins cornerback Shawn Springs and current linebacker Ryan Kerrigan joined up Tuesday to help host the “Heart Of Gold” event in honor of longtime educator Elaine Shuster.

Eric Shuster remembers the first time he met former Washington Redskins cornerback Shawn Springs. While taping a show for Comcast SportsNet in 2007, they learned they both grew up in Silver Spring, Md., and had attended rival high schools.

A friendship soon spawned into something greater.

“Shawn’s been like family ever since,” said Shuster. “He’s my mom and dad’s other kid…My dad calls him his third son, his favorite son.”

It was easy to see their brotherly connection Monday night in downtown Washington, D.C., for the kick-off event of “Heart of Gold,” which honored the memory of Eric’s mother and long-time educator, Elaine Shuster.

Springs, with current Redskins outside linebacker Ryan Kerrigan, helped host the fundraiser, which included live and silent auctions of sports memorabilia to raise money to support charities embodying Elaine’s passion for teaching children.

The event was a way for Eric to continue his mother’s dedicated work within the public school community since she passed away last December.

“You get together on nights like this, doing something for the greater good,” said Kerrigan, who made friends with Eric when he joined the Redskins. “It makes you feel good.”

It was especially impactful for Springs, who went to public school in Maryland’s Montgomery County and who still considers himself part of the Shuster family. He visited Elaine in the hospital during her final years when he could and still gets breakfast with her husband, Jerry.

“You talk about one of the nicest women you would ever meet in your lives,” said Springs, who stressed the importance in having good public school teachers.

Elaine began teaching special education in Montgomery County in the 1980s and eventually moved on to teaching middle school before ending her career at Brookgrove Elementary in Olney, Md. She was involved with ORT America and volunteered at local libraries, retiring in 2010.

Between photo opportunities and many conversations, the packed event, held at Tony and Joe’s Seafood Place, afforded those in attendance the opportunity to rub shoulders with local sports celebrities, including a good helping of Redskins players. Joining Springs and Kerrigan were receiver Santana Moss, safety Brandon Meriweather, running back Roy Helu Jr., punter Tress Way, kicker Kai Forbath, as well as Washington Nationals third baseman Ryan Zimmerman and tennis star Caroline Wozniacki, among others.

“Any time you get to give back for any cause it’s just kind of a good feeling,” said Forbath. “Education is huge. [Football] isn’t going to last forever. I’m going to rely on my education when I’m done [playing] to get me a job.”

The athletes’ contribution was due largely to Eric, who works in media relations at Comcast and has developed strong relationships with many Washington, D.C., area players. The logistics and coordination he credited largely to his friend Kate Fox, who came up with the idea eight months ago.

“The foundation is about being local: local teams, local players, local schools,” said Fox. “That is our focus. To give back here.”

She added: “Our main goal is to be that unexpected, unavailable gift, the one that with guidance can help someone achieve something they could never have dreamed of. [Eric and I] have shared that experience and that is, for us, what the goal is.”

Observing the turnout and players interacting with those in attendance, Jerry Shuster couldn’t help but smile at how his wife’s memory had been honored.

“I’m overwhelmed,” he said. “I know my wife would be so proud of [Eric and his brother Brian]. They wanted to give back and we live in a community that wants us to.”

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