Former IC West star brings "Fifth Ward Saints" organization to Corridor

Carlos Honore (right) is returning to Iowa City more than 20 years after starring for the West High football team. (Photo courtesy: Fifth Ward Saints)

Football made Carlos Honore a star at Iowa City West High School in the mid-1990s.

"Football came along in my life at the right time," he recalled on Monday.

Honore rushed for 4,382 yards and 74 touchdowns in his career with the Trojans - helping the school to the 1995 4A championship - but it's what the game provided off the field that truly changed his life.

"It was more so the camaraderie of the teammates, the leadership of the coaches, and just being a part of something," he said.

Nine years ago, Honore established the Fifth Ward Saints in Houston, Texas. It's a youth football league that combines athletics with advocacy.

"I was diagnosed with a learning disability early on in life - and I struggled," Honore said. "The portion of our program that deals with the case management helps kids that have the learning disabilities and behavior disorders."

The Saints don't just provide a social structure for kids that need it - but guide them to ventures beyond the football field.

"If you feel sports is going to be your ticket out - OK, we'll help you with sports," he said. "If it's going to be music or acting, we have things for all these kids."

This year - more than two decades since football built a foundation for him - Honore is moving back to Iowa City and create the Fifth Ward Saints North organization.

"Iowa City is a special place," he said. "That's the good thing about Iowans: when they see a problem, they do what they can to fix the problem."

Honore has already seen that first-hand. During the 2018 first-quarter meeting of the 100+ Men Who Care's Hawkeye Chapter, he was randomly selected as one of three people to share the story of the organization he represented. At the end of those presentations, every attendee donates $100 apiece to the organization the group collectively votes for.

"To hear about a favorite son returning home to do something special really resonated with the group," 100+ Men Who Care: Hawkeye Chapter founder Leighton Smith said on Monday.

And so $24,000 made its way to the Saints to help them start anew in Iowa City.

It's not the first time Honore and the organization have benefited from such kindness. After having their equipment stolen in 2014, DICK'S Sporting Goods donated $100,000 of equipment and support to the organization in Houston.

A kickoff meeting for Fifth Ward Saints North is set for Thursday, April 19.

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