Video: Sister of grandpa who founded Thanksgiving dinner for football players surprised

Charlie Barratt-Bennett was invited last year by a Pennsylvania football player to spend Thanksgiving with him and his parents

The “grandma’s” Thanksgiving dinner hasn’t lost its magic – at least, not for one man.

Charlie Barratt-Bennett was invited last year by a Pennsylvania football player to attend a Thanksgiving dinner with him and his parents. The former classmate was paying the annual dinner out of his own pocket, a tradition that he started more than 30 years ago.

With his grandmother’s blessing, Barratt-Bennett invited the player to join him and his family at his grandmother’s house. He had helped to celebrate when the player’s mother was a teenager and in the class that Barratt-Bennett was in.

“You know, my dream growing up was to have kids and be able to instill values in them and give them a good foundation,” he told Fox29. “I did as much as I could to help those kids and to help their families.”

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After inviting the player, Barratt-Bennett was surprised to find out that the young man was named Jarrett Mingo – NFL player and 2015 first-round draft pick.

The family made arrangements to bring the football player to Barratt-Bennett’s house and his grandmother helped make the restaurant reservations. He kept with the tradition and had them visit last November.

Then Barratt-Bennett was hit with an unexpected news: His grandmother had fallen ill. “I just couldn’t leave, I had to help,” he said.

He believed the trip to Fort Lauderdale would be her final Thanksgiving. As she lay in the hospital bed unable to fly, Barratt-Bennett posted an Instagram photo of them together – wearing their red Bears hats – and wrote a heartfelt message.

“It’s been great meeting you over the past year as he continues to fulfill my dream and Jarrett continues to fulfill his. Not easy to have your mother in the hospital for the season (ever feel like being a kid again – we have long days) but grandma has been on her way home for some time and I’m looking forward to seeing my ever loving guardian angel soon. Wish I was home to see her but we’re OK.”

Chad Huff/Fox 29 News.

After posting the photo, both the Tribune-Review and the Pittsburgh Tribune-Review came to his mother’s hospital bedside and wished her well.

“I thought it was appropriate to be a role model and keep the tradition of getting a grandchild, and not just from an athlete, from a football player, from a sports fan, but a child of our class at a local high school, from an individual that helped out the people that we know around the school,” Barratt-Bennett said.

A GoFundMe was set up to help the family with medical bills. As of 6am on Thursday, it had already raised more than $37,000.

“Thank you so much everyone for the support,” Barratt-Bennett wrote. “I lost both grandparents when I was a young kid, and my life changed since the day I touched this world. As always I’m glad to receive this support because it makes my family a little more comfortable as we continue to work our way through some hardships.”

Barratt-Bennett has said the holiday dinners started with his grandfather, who had to go to South America to work because of a heart condition.

“I was in high school when I got to see my first turkey for the first time,” he told the Tribune-Review. “This was a way for me to make people better and show them there’s something better out there.”

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