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Mr. Q's mission

by Jenni Carlson Modified: July 3, 2010 at 9:00 am •  Published: July 3, 2010
That program began Father's Day weekend with an appreciation event for two single, young fathers.

Cheddar's and Charleston's donated lunch.

Spencer Stone did the same with new suits.

Ronnie Hazelwood picked out a grey suit and a plaid tie. He isn't much of a suit-and-tie guy, but one of the monthly get-togethers that Carter has planned with the fathers will be a dress-up event.

"Now,” Hazelwood said, "I've got somewhere to wear it.”

Carter never had to deal with many of the issues that the people he's helping have encountered. He wasn't a child of privilege, but he was the product of a two-parent household.

He knows that's no small thing.

"They were there supporting me,” he said of his parents, Clemon and Sandra. "As I grow up and see a bigger picture, you just start to appreciate things a whole lot more.”

His reason for giving so much of his time?

He knows the importance of having someone who believes in you, who supports you, who champions you. That's what his parents did, and now, he's just trying to follow their lead.

Carter makes it all sound so simple, and yet, all the while, he has been a full-time student and a full-time athlete. There are practices and meetings and film sessions, not to mention tests and papers and study halls.

The longer he's been in Norman, the bigger his responsibilities have grown. He became known as an enforcer in the defensive secondary last season. With the departure of Dom Franks and the move of Jonathan Nelson from strong safety to cornerback, Carter will need to provide stability this season. He also added a minor in nonprofit organizational studies to his sociology/criminology major.

How did he find the time and the energy for all of this community service?

Carter shrugged.

"I don't play video games,” he said.

He chuckled, then smiled.

"Seeing that you make a difference,” he said, "that's really a motivation.”

So it was that Carter added his latest activity — volunteering at KinderCare in Norman. He first visited during the spring after a suggestion from a neighbor, and he was hooked right away. Not long after, he asked if he could adopt the 4-year-old class.

"I did not approach him or anything,” said Wanda Ramirez, who oversees the child-care center. "It was all his doing.”

Since then, he's helped plant flowers and brought pizza for the kids. Snow cones are planned for later this summer. But more than anything, he connects with the kids. He listens to every story. He holds every hand. He plays every game.

When Carter went home for a couple weeks earlier this summer, the kids actually got mad. They couldn't figure out where he'd gone. They couldn't understand why he wasn't visiting anymore.

That's how much the kids love Mr. Q.

"He is so good with the kids,” Ramirez said. "He goes beyond.”

Indeed, he does. Way, way beyond.

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by Jenni Carlson
Jenni Carlson, a sports columnist at The Oklahoman since 1999, came by her love of sports honestly. She grew up in a sports-loving family in Kansas. Her dad coached baseball and did color commentary on the radio for the high school football...
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Want to know more?
Contact SOUL, the nonprofit charitable foundation started by Oklahoma football player Quinton Carter, at


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