Dillon builds Foundation on Cincy

3-7-02, 4:00 p.m.

BY GEOFF HOBSON

Corey Dillon matched Thursday's spring weather with a ray of sunshine in downtown Cincinnati when he launched his foundation with a $28,000 handoff.

With an eye to helping ease the city's racial strife, he announced the formation of the Corey Dillon Foundation that is geared to Cincinnati's inner-city youth, ranging from children 12-18. It completes the remarkable evolution of the troubled Seattle teenager who had a juvenile record longer than some of his record runs.

Dillon, the Bengals' three-time Pro Bowl running back who has twice been to the Pro Football Hall of Fame, has now become a healing force in what he calls, "my second home."

Last spring's racial unrest pushed Dillon toward a foundation for inner city kids like himself and while he realizes the current boycott suggests problems, he wants to be a solution.

"I know there is a lot of tension in a lot of communities throughout Cincinnati and I just want to be a helping hand," said Dillon after making the first donation in honor of his No. 28 jersey at a downtown luncheon at Jeff Ruby's Steakhouse.

"I just want to be some kind of support system in these communities and try to help everyone come together."

Dillon said when he reads the boycott headlines, it makes him, "kind of sad. I'm a minority in this city. I don't see that treatment. I don't see the treatment the way the city is portrayed. I'm not around the inner city, so I don't know the ins and outs of it. I can say we do have some issues and hopefully we can get those issues resolved. Personally, I think it's a great city."

Despite using a cane to get around on his third full day since arthroscopic knee surgery, Dillon also provided some spring-time optimism on the Bengals'chances in 2002.

"This year, the sun is going to shine on us and we're going to do something good," Dillon said. "

We've got a fair, legitimate shot to dominate. You couldn't tell me (the Patriots would win the Super Bowl). They were 0-2 and were counted out and I think we're counted out every year. But the sun will shine on us one day and I think this is the year."

Dillon said he should be back to regular workouts at the end of next week after getting his left knee cleaned out. After talking to the team's beat reporters Thursday about the possibility of being matched against Ricky Williams if he went to Cleveland and about next month's NFL Draft, Dillon said, "You guys got my sparkplugs going."

Dillon had help from former Bengals kicker Doug Pelfrey in forming the foundation. Pelfrey is head of his own playlikethepros Foundation that has given $700,000 to charities in the past five years. Dillon's vice president is Bengals Super Bowl lineman Dave Lapham, the club's radio analyst.

On the agenda is:

_ The Corey Dillon Football Camp in June, open to all ages.

_The Corey Dillon Foundation annual Halloween Party for inner-city youth.

_The Corey Dillon Foundation Annual Turkey Run that provides 28 Greater Cincinnati inner-city families with a Thanksgiving Day meal.

_The playlikethepros Extra Effort Dinner, where the top running back in the Greater Cincinnati area receives the Corey Dillon Running Back of the Year Award.

For more information about the Corey Dillon Foundation, or how to become involved, call 859-331-PLAY, Ext. 28.

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