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July 10, 2006

Pro football player, brother plan football camp for the deaf

From: Madison Daily Leader, SD - Jul 10, 2006

By ELISA SAND, Staff Reporter

Stefan and Eric LeFors are in the planning stages of putting together a football training camp at Camp Lakodia next summer.

Although football camps are not unique to the area, this camp, which will be held in July, will be geared toward youth 13 and older who can communicate through sign language. This includes youth who are hearing impaired and children of deaf adults.

Stefan LeFors is a quarterback for the Carolina Panthers. He just completed his first season with the professional football team. Both he, who is hearing, and his brother, who is deaf, played football from an early age and were on teams in both high school and college.

"It's a place I can go and be myself," Eric LeFors said. "Nothing matters except the ability to play."

While several sports camps are offered at Camp Lakodia, Stefan LeFors said a deaf football camp is not available.

"We thought it would be a good idea," he said.

"We're pioneers," Eric LeFors said.

The five-day camp would teach skill positions, fundamentals, techniques and football skills.

Stefan LeFors is from Baton Rouge, La., and his brother is from Florida. His family was gathered at Camp Lakodia this past week for a family reunion. Family members, the majority of whom are deaf, gathered from Florida, Washington, D.C., Louisiana and South Dakota.

While his grandfather, from Sioux Falls, organized the reunion at Camp Lakodia, Stefan LeFors said the camp is well-known across the country.

"It's a big thing in the deaf community," he said. "If you're involved in the deaf community, you know about the camp."

The football camp will be advertised from coast to coast, he said, and it has the potential to attract youth from California to Florida.

"Our one concern we have is that this is not a hotbed for deaf football, so we'll probably get a lot from the east coast," said LeFors.

While participants in the camp will be using Camp Lakodia for meals and lodging, Stefan LeFors said they are working on making arrangements in the area to use an available football field for training.

Because participants will be traveling from quite a distance, LeFors said one way the community can help is through donations that can be used for financial assistance for those campers who need help with the cost of traveling. Those donations can be sent directly to Camp Lakodia.

©Madison Daily Leader 2006