NFL star, former North Fort Myers athlete, honored in Edison parade

Thousands of people are expected to fill the streets of Fort Myers during one of the biggest parades in the nation. All those in attendance will watch one hometown hero assume the role as grand marshal in the Edison Festival of Light Parade.

Tommy Bohanon, Jacksonville Jaguars fullback in the NFL and former North Fort Myers High School athlete, has been named as the grand marshal of the 81st Edison Festival of Light Parade.

“There wasn’t many pro athletes that were coming back and really giving back when I was in school,” Bohanon said. “So I think that’s something very important.”

Bohanon says the big parade is his platform to inspire kids in the area. He also said part of his mentoring begins with sharing his life story with kids and added that he believes it teaches them “to really never give up.”

When Bohanon returns to his home in North Fort Myers, he is surrounded by milestones of his football career, but he continues to remember where he came from.

“I was born in Cape Coral,” Bohanon said. “I’ve grown up in North Fort Myers, so I love being able to come back and give back to it as well.”

So before Bohanon returns to the field for the Jags and his sixth NFL season, he returns to his roots to influence Southwest Florida’s youth.

“We’ve been going to elementary schools and doing book readings and different things,” Bohanon said. “We went to Golisano Children’s hospital. A lot of these kids don’t have a great role model or anything like that, so if I can be that for a day or for an hour, I think that’s something very important.”

Through his Tommy Bohanon Foundation, Bohanon is helping kids envision their own field dreams with the goal to get local kids out of poverty.

“We want to end generational poverty,” Bohanon said. “We do a one-day football camp. We’ve been able to give out scholarships. We give out youth equipment grants for sports to really help those kids and uplift this community.”

Bohanon’s community recognizes him for his positive impact by naming him for the top honor as grand marshal of the parade.

“That’s very special because it’s one of the biggest parades,” Bohanon said. “At the same time, it’s another way that we can raise awareness for the at-risk youth. To really try to put a smile on their face for a day is something that I hold very near to my heart.”

MORE: Edison Festival of Light celebration routes and road closure 

Reporter:Melinda Lee
Writer:Jack Lowenstein
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