WILMINGTON, N.C. – Nearly 80 years after the USS North Carolina first set sail, it served as the setting for Panthers owner David Tepper to launch Keep Pounding Day.
Tepper helped swab the deck of the historic battleship that is docked as a museum, then the Panthers helped future preservation projects with a $5,100 check to Friends of the Battleship.
The event was the first of 25 community service initiatives being undertaken by the Panthers in 25 communities around North and South Carolina. The rest will play out on Keep Pounding Day, May 1 (5/1) – in honor of Carolina's late, great No. 51, Sam Mills.
"Community service is something I personally think – and the Panthers think – is one of the most important things we can do, and we're going to be at 25 different places for our 25th anniversary," Tepper said. "Hopefully every one is as fun as this because I loved swabbing the deck. I think I may have to stay here all day and build some extra muscles or something like that. It was a great day."
Much like the kickoff event in Wilmington, Panthers employees will pair with community and corporate partners for service projects from Charleston and Hilton Head on the South Carolina coast to Kitty Hawk on the North Carolina coast to Asheville in the North Carolina mountains and numerous spots in between.
"The Panthers do a lot in North and South Carolina," Tepper said. "We were really involved with hurricane relief, and I've been involved with all the food banks in North and South Carolina already, around Christmas time like I traditionally do. This is not the first time. And the team has always done a certain amount of community service; we're just taking it up one or two or three notches."
Keep Pounding Day is the latest initiative from the Panthers' new owner to make a positive impact through the team's footprint off the field.
"I said when I first came here that there are two ways we want to win: on the field and in the community," Tepper said. "We have a great group of guys that constantly do things for the community – whether it's Cam (Newton) or Greg (Olsen) or a whole host of other guys. We have a very involved team in that respect. On the field, I think we had one freakin' great draft, and we did some things in free agency.
"I have a philosophy generally from other parts of my life that if you're going to try to do something, you try to be your best."