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Browns break ground on new turf field donated to Boys Hope Girls Hope

10/31/2020 - Nick Shook

A symbol of hope stands in a nondescript lot wedged between rows of residences in Garfield Heights.

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It's a brand new, 22,000 square foot multipurpose building, the Rajan Academy Center, featuring dynamic classrooms, an art studio, a STEM lab, counseling and study areas and physical fitness spaces. It opens in June and belongs to Boys Hope Girls Hope, meaning it belongs to the students involved in the program.

The Cleveland Browns visited this site and gathered in a parking lot next to the center Tuesday for their own contribution: a 70-yard synthetic turf playing field. The team joined Boys Hope Girls Hope in breaking ground on the project Tuesday.

It's the latest phase of what has been an ambitious and successful construction project for Boys Hope Girls Hope, an organization that began in a house in Cuyahoga Falls, Ohio, some 30 years ago. Hope was central to the message of executive director Tim Grady on Tuesday. Browns defensive tackle Larry Ogunjobi took it a step further, imploring the students in attendance to believe, as belief inspires action.

"I've heard the word 'hope' a lot, and that's an awesome word, but I want you guys to believe," Ogunjobi told the students. "I want each and every one of you to believe that there's greatness in each and every one of you. You can go out here and do whatever you want to do, but you really have to take full advantage of the opportunities in front of you. Whatever you want to be, you can be it."

Ogunjobi was one of four Browns players in attendance, leading a group that also included safeties Damarious Randall and Jermaine Whitehead, and kicker Greg Joseph. Browns executive vice president JW Johnson attended as well, speaking to those gathered about the importance of education. He had a good example of it in Randall, who just graduated from Arizona State University over the weekend with a bachelor's degree.

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