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Thursday, Sep 21, 2017
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For Pasco families, ex-Buc Warrick Dunn is MVP

LACOOCHEE - Christopher Atkins let go of his sister's hand as they entered their new home on Coit Road. Looking to his left, his eyes brightened. "Free food!" said the 7-year-old. Warrick Dunn, the former Tampa Bay Buccaneers running back whose foundation helped the Atkins' purchase the home, smiled as he watched Christopher go.
"Just like a guy," Dunn said, "headed straight for the kitchen." Dunn was busy this morning, helping dedicate three homes in this blighted area of northwest Pasco County. He started the Warrick Dunn Family Foundation in 1997 during his rookie season in the NFL to honor his late mother, Betty Smothers, a single mother of six who dreamed of owning her own home. The foundation provides $5,000 to families in down-payment assistance. In 14 years, it has rewarded 107 single parents and 286 children and dependents. In addition, the Atkins family, including mother Ramona and daughter Summer, 15, invested 400 hours of work on the Habitat for Humanity home. Other families who moved into new homes in Lacoochee today included Linda Hambrick and her two teenage sons and 12-year-old daughter, and Soporro Burns, who has a teenage son and daughter, and also cares for a 5-year-old niece. The homes were furnished by Aaron's Inc., and also came with appliances, dishes, linens, cleaning supplies and stocked pantries. Dunn said he is motivated by the dreams of his mother, a Baton Rouge, La., police officer who was killed during a 1993 robbery while working a second job as a security guard. "Her thing was to do everything you can to make sure your family gets a better life," he said.

gfox@tampatrib.com (813) 259-8116

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