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Muhammad honored by Army with Bowl Week jump

ClaytMuhammad East Aurorschools spokesman founder Boys II Men  prepares skydive with Sgt. Noah Watts member U.S. Army parachute team

Clayton Muhammad, East Aurora schools spokesman and founder of Boys II Men, prepares to skydive with Sgt. Noah Watts, a member of the U.S. Army parachute team the Golden Knights. Muhammad is being honored with an Army Centers of Influence award ahead of Saturday's U.S. Army All-American Bowl.

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Updated: January 3, 2013 8:11PM

SAN ANTONIO, TEXAS — Clayton Muhammad is celebrating Aurora’s recent good news — a year without a homicide — by jumping out of a plane this week.

Muhammad, spokesman for the East Aurora School District and founder of the Boys II Men youth mentoring group, has been named a Center of Influence, a U.S. Army award honoring community leaders.

Muhammad is in San Antonio as a guest of the Army during the Army’s All American Bowl Week, ahead of Saturday’s Army All-American Bowl, where the nation’s top high school football players and top marching bands will compete and perform on a national stage.

On Thursday, Muhammad was training to sky dive with the U.S. Army parachute team the Golden Knights at Stinson Flight Training Center.

“I tried to convince them that I can jump solo, but it’s not working,” Muhammad said.

He went skydiving for the first time last fall.

Muhammad was nominated for the five-day, all expenses-paid trip by Sgt. Edi Rodriguez-Ulloa, a former recruiter at the Army’s office on Lake Street in Aurora. Rodriguez-Ulloa now is stationed at Fort Drum, N.Y.

Besides honoring Muhammad for all the good that he has done for Aurora’s youth, Rodriguez-Ulloa said the nomination also was a way of showing Muhammad that the Army does more than fight wars — they’re also committed to getting kids through college.

“When I first met Mr. Muhammad, he was cordial, but he knew I was an Army recruiter,” Rodriguez-Ulloa said. “I took this as an opportunity to shatter a lot of misconceptions about the Army.”

Muhammad is taking part in All American Bowl Week activities with other leaders from around the Midwest — educators, politicians, businessmen and college presidents.

The Golden Knights’ stories are inspiring, and their one-hour parachute packing workshop drives home life lessons, Muhammad said.

“Their stories are so similar to our (East Aurora) kids — to see where they were in life to now... These (men) are the example that all our kids need to see,” he said.

On Wednesday night, Muhammad participated in a roundtable discussion with high-ranking military officials to talk about community needs — from supporting the Deferred Action program for immigrants to tackling single-parent households. Also this week, he will be visiting with wounded warriors at the Brooke Army Medical Center.

After the trip, Muhammad said his goal will be to get Aurora children participating at next year’s All American bowl game.

“I will be pushing and fighting like heck for that,” he said.

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