WMBD/WYZZ-TV - WASHINGTON, Ill. - The Nov. 17 tornado that hit central Illinois was too close for comfort for Sherrick McManis.
The Bears defensive back was one of 14 players to surprise students in Washington Wednesday McManis, a Peoria native, knew he wanted to reach out to the community about 15 miles from where he grew up.
"It's sad to know what they went through but it's very encouraging," said McManis. "They are so inspirational and still so excited to see us. We brighten up their day but they also brighten ours. I'm glad to be a part of it. Glad to come down here and support something close to my home town."
Bears players spent the morning and early afternoon hours visiting students on their lunch breaks Then followed the Red Cross to tornado-damaged areas in Washington to help clear debris.
"A lot of people here are Bears fans," said Bears kicker Robbie Gould. Hopefully, we can inspire them and let them know they're not alone. Hopefully, we can help them rebuild a bit and let them know the more work and effort they put into it. The better it's going to be and the more they'll be able to prevail."