PALMYRA, Mo. — Bobby Dodd sat on his front porch Monday morning watching the Palmyra football players strategically load his life’s possessions into the beds of several pickup trucks.
They unloaded the furniture and boxes a short while later with the same precision and efficiency.
They did it all in less than two hours, helping the Palmyra native and military veteran empty his old home and settle in his new one with effort, execution and planning.
That’s the way they intend to play every fall Friday night, too.
This endeavor may have possessed similar hallmarks to a football game, but the meaning was bigger. It was a life lesson about giving back to a community that gives of itself to make playing football at Palmyra such a unique privilege.
“The community puts so much work and effort into what we do,” Palmyra senior linebacker Nolyn Richards said. “They do a lot of stuff just so we can play football. To do something for them, it goes way beyond football. It means a whole lot to us. A lot of us take it to heart.”
This wasn’t just something the Panthers were asked to do. They needed to do it.
“The community comes out and supports us on Fridays and gives us their time,” senior lineman Brayden Madden said. “It feels good to give back to people who have given to us.”
Dodd, 73, served in the U.S. Army from July 1967 to July 1969 with a year-long deployment to Vietnam in the middle. He sold his house to incoming Palmyra boys basketball coach Brian Rea. Dodd’s family asked if anyone could help Dodd move before Rea took ownership.
Rea reached out to Palmyra football coach Kevin Miles and asked about rounding up athletes to help.
“We didn’t even bat an eye,” Miles said. “Of course, we will. He’s veteran. He’s a Palmyra guy. We would do that for a lot of people that are friends of the family. We’re trying to help Coach Rea and do a good thing for Bobby.
“So we put it out to our kids, ‘Hey, we need 12 kids to help move this guy out of his house.’ We had 12 kids who immediately said, ‘Yep, we’re in.’”
Had Miles needed another dozen to jump in, they would have shown up, too.
“For the most part, everybody is like, ‘Hey, I’m down to do whatever,’” Richards said. “Especially when it’s for somebody from the community, because they show so much support for our team. We have to show them support when we can.”
There was more to it than just moving furniture.
Each one of the Panthers introduced themselves to Dodd, shook his hand and engaged in a bit of small talk. Most were unfamiliar with Dodd, named Missouri’s Distinguished Legionnaire in 2018 for his work with the Palmyra American Legion Boots-Dickson Post 174.
Dodd has been part of Post 174 for more than 50 years.
“He introduced himself and told us about himself,” Richards said. “He actually knew my grandpa because he had worked with him. So he told me a lot about him.”
Those short conversations were welcome.
“He was very nice,” Madden said. “It was nice to talk to him.”
Those players are linked to Dodd forever now as part of the Palmyra family.
“It’s things like this that let you see how big that family really is,” Madden said.
It’s truly widespread.
“Which is why we have to go out and help them,” Madden said. “They are always there to support us.”
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