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Tom Allen takes part in All Pro Dad Experience



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Children and fathers listen intently to IU Football Coach Tom Allen during the opening address of the All Pro Dad Experience on Saturday at Memorial Stadium. Zackary Swoboda Buy Photos

IU football Coach Tom Allen and the All Pro Dad Experience team put together an All Pro Dad event for fathers and their children at Memorial Stadium on Saturday.

President of Family First Mark Merrill and former Indianapolis Colts Coach Tony Dungy partnered up to make All Pro Dad. In an effort to help fathers create long-lasting relationships with their children, All Pro Dad puts on events for fathers in hopes of making them become the best they can be.

All Pro Dad enforces a saying for each father to follow: one minute a day, one hour a month and one day a year.

The one minute a day is fueled by All Pro Dad sending out daily tips for fathers through email to build strong relationships with their children.

Fathers can get involved with an All Pro Dad chapter and attend chapter meetings with other fathers and their children an hour each month.

Each year, the fathers are urged to commit one day to their children to attend an All Pro Dad Experience Day.

Four stations were created to enable each dad to learn and grow with his children. There was a humility station, an “others first” station, a role models station and an endurance station.

At each station, the children and their dads were taught valuable lessons, then got to participate in a game to bond with one another. The main focus was for the kids to have fun with their dads but also to teach each dad how to be a hero in his family.

Kids were encouraged to participate in different sporting events with their dads and compete against one another in friendly competition. The events consisted of a ladder drill, 40-yard dash, vertical jump, three-cone drill and quarterback toss.

The kids were told that they only had four rules: have fun, make a new friend, learn something new and make dad sore. The kids were eager to fulfill these rules as they screamed back to the All Pro Dad staff.

All Pro Dad Experience does not solely focus on biological relationships, though, and it encouraged many fathers today to consider becoming a foster parent

The organization partnered with the Indiana Department of Child Services to spread the word about how important foster care is for the children in the system.

Gretchen Grier has worked for DCS for over 20 years now and pushes for agency reform initiatives for the foster care system.

“Here, in our great state of Indiana, nearly 15,000 children enter into foster care," Grier said. "Our system has been greatly overwhelmed with that number because we simply don’t have enough foster families to care for all the children in need."

Indiana DCS had a tent at the event for fathers to get more information on how to get involved in foster parenting.

Allen said he was happy to play host to the first All Pro Dad Experience at IU and saw the importance of father figures in a child’s life.

For him, All Pro Dad is more than just a day in the year. It is a lifestyle that his own father exhibited, and now, Allen passes that onto his children.

“My dad was my high school coach, and he’s my hero," Allen said. "I got three children, and in a profession where there is a lot of time demands, it can make it hard on your family."

Allen works to spend as much time with his family as possible. Luckily for him, he coaches one of his children, Thomas Allen, a linebacker for IU football.

Dungy and Allen’s friendship sparked Allen’s interest in having IU put on an All Pro Dad Experience for the community’s fathers.

Allen encourages his fellow coaches to be the best that they can be for their families, as well as show their players how to be great dads.

“One thing I tell our coaches all the time is we got to be great dads," Allen said. "We have a great opportunity to obviously influence our players."

Allen said he looks forward to putting on this event each year moving forward to continue making a difference in the community.

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