At an Oct. 16 ribbon cutting and reveal, NFL player Pierre Desir returned to his former high school, Francis Howell Central, whose new fitness center was made possible through his generosity.
Desir, a cornerback with the Indiana Colts, donated $185,000 as a thank you to Howell Central for his education and for helping to start his football career. His donation allowed the school to build its new fitness center and weight room. The gym’s old equipment is currently being used at Saeger Middle.
At the ceremony, Howell Central Principal Dr. Sonny Arnel and Activities Director Scott Harris presented Desir with a plaque acknowledging his donation.
“We just want to thank Pierre and his family. It’s an incredible gesture that inspires our kids and our teachers. It reminds them that what they do matters, and it inspires them to continue to pour into our students,” Arnel said.
After the award presentation, Desir joined students and staff in viewing the updated gym, its new equipment and wall designs. The weights are decorated with school symbols and the walls are painted with encouraging words. The back wall displays pictures of current student-athletes who represent every sport available at the school.
“It’s amazing,” Desir said. “It’s definitely something that I’m proud of. I love all of the detail that was put into the room. Just to be able to go back to high school brings back so many great memories.”
While at the open house, Desir took pictures and signed autographs for students and other Francis Howell community members. He also ate lunch with the Minority Achievement Committee [MAC] Scholar students, with whom he shared his experiences and answered questions about what helped him get to where he is today.
“Having someone who went here and was in the same place as me is really cool,” Aria Lynch, MAC Scholar and basketball player, said. “He’s a real person. He’s had injuries like I have. He’s had hardships like a lot of people and is still finding a way to persevere through it and give back.”
Later that evening, Desir attended a football game against Troy-Buchanan High and was presented with his high school jersey.