For today’s history lesson, we turn our attention to another football player, but this time an American who came north and played in the CFL. George Reed is known in Saskatchewan as a record breaking running back for the Saskatchewan Roughriders during the 1960s and 1970s. He appeared in four Grey Cups, helping the Riders win their first in 1966. Reed is one of three running backs always mentioned as the best in the history of the CFL (the others being Mike Pringle and Johnny Bright), and is one of only 8 former Roughriders to have his number retired.
Like yesterday’s entry, Rueben Mayes, Reed was a Pac 8 college player for the Washington State University Cougars, where he was teamed along with future Rider teammate and fellow Canadian Football Hall of Famer, Hugh Campbell.
Reed’s play during his 13 years with the Roughriders is not the main point of this article. He is also a naturalized Canadian citizen, and was made a Member of the Order of Canada for his work with children with disabilities. His contributions to help the handicapped and his work and creation of the George Reed Foundation, saw the Province of Saskatchewan recognize his work in 1973.
Since then, Reed still works with the foundation, and lives in Regina. He is often seen in the stands with thousands of other Rider faithful during game days.
Reed’s message as founder and chair of the George Reed Foundation is very clear;
We need heroes. They believe in us, and teach us to believe in others and ourselves. They inspire us to become more than who we are. A true hero touches the lives of many people, and does so selflessly and without thanks. True heroes walk among us, silently giving their time, their energy and their passion.
Of the many organizations that the foundation helps, is the Saskatchewan Special Olympics and those athletes who compete at provincial and national levels. But the foundation’s work speaks for itself.
The George Reed Foundation was founded by #34 himself, with a strong focus on helping the disabled and disadvantaged who are physically and intellectually challenged. We support programs and projects that focus on education, continuous learning and inspiring healthy and active living.
George has personally been a long time supporter of Saskatchewan Special Olympics, and lends his name to them in creating a future legacy fund. As well, over the years George has provided his support to pictogram development-a method of symbolic communication. The George Reed Foundation and the University of Regina are working to create a centre of study for pictogram research and development. We envision the centre further exploring other means of visual communication, and the creation of scholarships to support students who want to help people with physical or intellectual disabilities.
George Reed, born in Mississippi, has become a Saskatchewan icon not only for his abilities on the gridiron, but also for his contributions to making Saskatchewan residents who are physically and mentally challenged get the assistance they deserve.