Chilo Rachal spent his Tuesday afternoon– the players' weekly day off – traveling to Byron, Calif., to visit over 100 teenage boys at the Orin Allen Youth Rehabilitation Facility.
Rachal's mission was simple, share his story and inspire the youth at the camp.
The Orin Allen Youth Rehabilitation Facility was established by the Contra Costa County Board of Supervisors, under the direction of the County Probation Officer, as a treatment center for adolescent delinquent youngsters.
During Rachal's visit, he fielded multiple questions from the youth as he sat with them in groups of 15 and spoke to them about the hardships he overcame at their age.* *The 49ers starting right guard, who grew up in Compton with a single mother, saw two of his brothers killed in gang-related violence, and related well to the youth."When he told me that he came from Compton, I know that Compton is hard out there, because I'm from Richmond," shared 15-year-old camper Kamau. "I'm going to use that as motivation. Plus, he told me that both his brothers died. I've had friends and cousins that passed and after talking to Chilo, I know I can use that as motivation for me to go somewhere in my life.
"It meant a lot because he showed us he cares how we feel and he wants us to do better in life. Obviously this is a bump in the road and he's showing that he cares for us, coming to see us and talk to us about how we feel and telling us about how he made it and just trying to give us tips and stuff. I appreciate it."
The teens warmed up to Rachal quickly as he answered their questions, both serious and casual, and they enthusiastically engaged in discussions with him on where they wanted to go in life, what to do to overcome adversity, and how to right their paths – and of course, football.
"It's very valuable for the youth to have real examples of people that have struggled through adversity and have made the changes necessary to achieve what they wish to achieve," said David Ellis, Probation Manager at Orin Allen. "Chilo has had a background that is very difficult and matches many of the backgrounds of the youth here, and he has overcome those struggles and achieved his goals in a career that many of these youth would strive to have. They can look up to him and I think he provides an inspiration to them."
After meeting with the youth in small group settings, Rachal personally autographed photos for each of the 106 youth and shook their hands before saying his goodbyes.
"Hopefully I was able to touch the lives of a few kids, especially kids that may not have many positive role models that they relate to," said Rachal after the event. "It was an honor to have the opportunity to share my story, to reach out, and to motivate, and I think that I was able to reach hopefully a few of them and show them it's possible to change their path."
"I appreciated him coming here because at the ranch we don't get a lot of opportunities like this," said 17-year-old camper Tyrin. "For me it was a blessing to be able to talk to a professional football player and it got my hopes up because knowing where he came from, and the hardships he went through, it made me want to do what I've got to do to succeed in life."