My alma mater, Central Michigan is participating in the first ever Bahamas Bowl in Nassau, taking on the Western Kentucky Hilltoppers on Wednesday at noon.

In addition to getting a nice vacation on a beautiful Caribbean island, the teams got a chance to give something back to their host nation. 

The players from Central Michigan and WKU have been treated like royalty since they first arrived in Nassau on Saturday afternoon.

On Monday, the players were given a chance to return the favor, and they jumped at the opportunity. More than 55 players, coaches and cheerleaders visited the Ranfurly Home for Children on Monday before participating in a USA Football sponsored football clinic for the local children.

“That’s the kind of team we are,” CMU running back Maurice Shoemaker-Gilmore said. “Give us a chance to do something nice, to give back a little bit, and that’s what we were going to do. That’s how it’s supposed to be.”

The large contingency of Popeyes Bahamas Bowl participants engaged with the 27 children –- 16 girls, 11 boys –- that currently reside at Ranfurly. Playing catch, shooting hoops or just talking, the student athletes did their best to give back to a community that has given so much to them these past few days.

“Every bit of this is paying it forward,” Shoemaker-Gilmore said. “Being in the Bahamas to play a college football game is unreal. Any chance we get to give back at all – it’s the least we can do.”

The visit to Ranfurly hit particularly close to home for CMU running back Saylor Lavalli whose father spent 16 years in an orphanage.

“My family, we really understand what these kids go through. Everyone has a story. Just because someone (has different circumstances), you should still treat everyone the right way,” he said.

 P.S. The game is being televised on ESPN.