Pay It Forward: Perfect fit gives "mom on the sidelines" new chance to get in the game

    Dawn Ealy is the board chairperson for Fifth Ward Saints North, which launches in Johnson County on October 15.

    Dawn Ealy does it all when it comes to youth football in Iowa City.

    "The mom on the sidelines - but also when people needed help," Dawn says about getting started in the sport. "So holding the chains, keeping score, things like that."

    All of that turned into three years as the coordinator for the West Youth Tackle Football program.

    "The values that program had - in terms of every kid gets to play, every kid gets to participate - I really wanted to be part of an organization like that - that had those types of values," she says.

    But Dawn's kids grew up - and she needed another outlet.

    An outlet appeared in the form of former Iowa City West football star Carlos Honore and the Fifth Ward Saints.

    "He came to speak at my son's graduation," Dawn remembers. "I had been looking for the opportunity to volunteer for an organization once both my kids went off to college - and when he spoke at graduation, I thought, 'This is it.'"

    "It just happened by chance," Carlos adds. "I spoke at the West High graduation. She happened to be there."

    CBS2/FOX28 first introduced you to Carlos and his organization back in March - as the former Iowa City West football star took the first steps to combine athletics and advocacy in the Corridor.

    "Instantly, I felt the passion that Dawn had for the kind of program that we had," Carlos says. "She really had a passion for working with kids."

    "That day I met Dawn, I asked her if she wanted to be a board member and she agreed," he adds. "It's been history since then. She's an absolute gem to our program."

    Dawn now volunteers as the board chairperson for Fifth Ward Saints North - handling things in Johnson County while Carlos prepares to move to Iowa from the Houston, Texas area where the program started.

    "I'm hundreds of miles away," Carlos says. "When something comes up and I can call somebody like Dawn and know she's gonna handle it and get the right people in place to make sure the situation gets resolved."

    "Dawn has all the answers. She's done it before. She's proven that she's capable of running a youth football organization."

    And they'll keep working together to pay it forward.

    "It's a team of 11 guys on the field," Dawn says. "You cannot play this game by yourself."

    Fifth Ward Saints North officially launches on October 15.

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