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Charity golf outing carries special meaning for ex-Bears RB

Chicago native Robert Hughes would not be a Notre Dame graduate and an NFL running back if not for a charity that provided him with tutoring, gym space and other resources.

Where would he be?

“Thank God I didn’t have to find out,” said Hughes, who attended Hubbard High School on the city’s South Side. “It would have been a struggle. It would have been hard.”

Now, Hughes is giving back to the foundation that gave so much to him.

The ex-Bears running back and current member of the Tampa Bay Buccaneers will take part in a charity golf outing that includes many of his former teammates. Devin Hester, Johnny Knox, Tommie Harris, Jason McKie, Nathan Vasher and others are scheduled to participate in the inaugural Beyond Sports Foundation golf benefit and silent auction next week.

The event, which is scheduled for Monday, will take place at Royal Country Club of Long Grove. Proceeds will help the foundation support college preparatory programs for 16 high school student-athletes during the 2012-13 academic year.

For information or to register for the outing, visit supportbsf.org or call 847-748-8190. Hughes, 22, said he hoped that the event could enable other children to follow in his footsteps. In addition to rushing for 1,392 yards and 15 touchdowns during his college career at Notre Dame, he graduated in 3˝ years with a degree in sociology.

“I want this to shine light on BSF and get people to recognize what everyone is trying to do here and notice the movement as far as trying to help athletes pursue their dreams,” Hughes said. “Whether it be a teacher that has spare time that can come to the foundation office to tutor for an hour – anything like that helps. I just hope that the golf event shines light on it.”

After spending part of the 2011 season on the Bears’ practice squad roster, Hughes is eager to make the Buccaneers’ roster this season. He will report to training camp next month, when he looks forward to working more with position coach Earnest Byner.

In 14 NFL seasons, Byner ran for 56 touchdowns and caught passes for 15 more.

“He was a great player, but I believe he’s an even better coach,” Hughes said. “He has tremendous respect among the guys because he’s a Hall of Famer. When you have a guy who’s been up that road before, you take heed of what he says.”

Before camp starts, Hughes will hit the links.

“I just picked up the game a year-and-a-half ago, and I haven’t been able to put the golf clubs down,” Hughes said. “I’m still learning.”

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