LUMBERTON — Former Super Bowl champion Vonta Leach spent Wednesday afternoon in a Robeson County jail.
But the Rowland native wasn’t doing time for breaking the law, but rather for a good cause.
Leach was arrested, along with 44 others, and put in the Relay for Life jail at Biggs Park Mall where friends and family could post their bonds in the form of donations to the American Cancer Society to set them free. The event was put on by the Robeson County Government Diamond Dukes and Divas and raised about $8,000. About half of those arrested served time.
Leach was arrested at home by a Lumberton police officer and a member of the Diamond Divas.
“I had just finished working out. The officer and a lady came by and said “you’ve gotta come with me” and I was like “for what?” he said.
But once he learned the cause behind the whole ordeal, Leach was more than willing to spend some time inside the make-shift chain-link jail cell — and not too worried that his friends and family would leave him there for their entertainment. Leach, a member of the Baltimore Ravens team that won the 2013 Super Bowl, was kept company by people who recognized him and entered the jail cell to have a photograph made with him.
“It’s for a good cause, so they will definitely come and get me,” Leach said. After about an hour, Leach posted his $800 bond, but not until after he had his high school football coach Mike Brill arrested too.
Arrest warrants cost $10 and include crimes — from “bad hair day” to “abusing the English language” — that a participant can be charged with.
“No comment,” he said.
Lesley Covington and her husband Tom Guarnieri committed the crime of wanting to help out. They were shopping in the mall, saw Relay for Life and turned themselves to rally friends, family and church members to donate towards their $25 bond.
“I just felt like this is the right thing to do,” said Covington, who has run in several Relay for Life races to honor her grandfather and other loved ones who have died from cancer.
Sharon Hunt, who lost a brother last year to cancer, was the judge in Relay for Life’s Court of Law and got to set the inmates bond. Although she joined in to support a cause close to her heat, Hunt was locked up during last year’s event and was having fun with her “chance to get revenge.”
For Mitszi Whitaker, a captain with the Diamond Divas, the event is all in good fun.
“It’s about celebrating the survivors and raising awareness, people want to be the part of that,” Whitaker said.
Whitaker said she doesn’t make people wonder what a police officer is doing at their home or job.
“It’s really a lot of fun. When you tell them what you’re doing is for … that’s kind of a hard thing to not want to participate in.”