Cam Newton’s fifth annual “Cam’s Thanksgiving Jam” featured loud dance music, wayward golf shots, heaping mounds of turkey and fixin’s and 800-plus families and children – at least one of whom saw the Panthers quarterback in a new light Monday night.
“I was serving my greasy, cheesy, unbelievable mac ‘n’ cheese, one of the kids told me, I thought you was fake. That just tells you how kids think,” Newton said. “For me just being here and being able to be touched, being talked to, that goes a long way.”
Newton again partnered with the Second Harvest Food Bank to host an event that had the feel of a turkey giveaway at a nightclub. This year the ‘Cam Jam’ moved from the Fillmore to Topgolf Charlotte, where Newton arrived by doing his Superman entrance across the front of the high-tech driving range to boisterous cheers.
Newton, flanked by his parents, Cecil and Jackie, promised all in attendance they were going to get “turkey wasted” and “yam wasted,” and told kids he wanted them to greet him with high-fives, hugs and smiles.
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“I remember growing up (in Atlanta), in my childhood I really didn’t have a person to touch or talk to or have the questions that I did have. Luckily I had an unbelievable supporting cast, my parents and coaches,” Newton told reporters.
“I vowed to myself that if I get put in my position – there’s never enough things that you can do for a community. So nights like tonight are important to me and will forever be important to me.”
With a DJ and drummer positioned on the middle level of the three-tiered range, Newton bounced among all three levels to serve alongside his parents and about 60 other volunteers.
Newton has helped position the Panthers (7-3) for another playoff push. But this night wasn’t about football.
“For this to be important to me and knowing what I mean to so many people in Charlotte, I just want to do right by them,” he said. “More than just winning football games, but making myself available as a servant.”
Newton praised the charitable work of several of his teammates, including linebacker Thomas Davis, safety Kurt Coleman and defensive end Charles Johnson. Newton will stage his “Santa Cam Surprise Sleigh” next month before the holidays.
“You just have to put it in your schedule and find ways to do it,” he said. “When you talk about (your) foundation, it shouldn’t be a chore.”
Newton said his parents instilled in him the call to service.
“Always give back if you’re in a position to do so,” he said. “And tonight’s no different.”