Originally created 04/08/00

Project Quest offers guidance



Arthur Marshall was sitting in his living room when the revelation came to him.

The Denver Broncos rookie receiver sat contemplating what had led to his success. Marshall wondered what exactly he had done to fulfill his dream of playing professional football while so many others just as talented stumbled somewhere along the way.

Before he could devise a model for others to follow, Marshall had to re-construct his own path in his mind. After reviewing the milestones of his young life, he discovered his father, Arthur Sr., was the source of his meteoric rise out of Hephzibah High School.

Marshall inherited his father's self-confidence. From the time Marshall was a toddler, his self-esteem bordered on obnoxiousness. That air of arrogance prevented any notions of doubt from creeping into his mind.

"I realized it was believing," Marshall said. "Failing was not an option. Once I realized what it was, I wanted to share it.

"Believing and hard work (led to success); believing is not all. There's no such thing as luck. Skill and opportunity is how you make things happen. You have to expect to be successful."

Once Marshall determined his success was linked to his father's self-assuredness, he sought ways to share his secret with children in Augusta.

From his desire to give back came Project Quest. The year-old created his foundation to deliver his inspirational message.

"My father was cocky and believed he was the best," Marshall said. "I was egotistical growing up, but not conceited. Anything a kid is instilled with comes from their environment. I was blessed with a father who thought he was the greatest thing in the world."

Following his -year NFL career in which he

played for Dan Reeves with the Broncos and New York Giants, Marshall put his ideas of giving back to his home community in motion. Targeting

impressionable middle-school students, the University of Georgia grad offers leadership and academic camps through Project Quest.

Marshall sought to fill a void with his philanthropic efforts in Augusta.

"Those are the types of things I wanted to share with kids," Marshall said. "I saw kids who had the skill and ability but not the leadership and guidance. It's not something I thought about until I was sitting there (in his living room). It was the belief that I just didn't know I could lose."

By providing intellectual stimulation during his summer camps, Marshall hopes to broaden the possibilities kids see for themselves. Along with ecology, archery and swimming, the former business and administration major encourages his campers to think long-term.

Preparing future leaders for success in a vast array of fields is Project Quest's prime objective. Marshall attempts to shape the minds of his young proteges so they will be ready for life's unpredictable nature.

"Their thoughts determine how successful they will be," Marshall said. "I try to help with their thought process. Once the music stops playing, if you don't have the where to all to do something else, you'll be lost."

Charles McNeil has worked alongside Marshall with Project Quest and the Augusta Heat, a semi-pro football team. McNeil said Marshall readily accepts his role-model status.

"He gets a sense of being a father-figure to the kids," McNeil said. "He shows them if I can do it, you can do it. Kids are always looking for someone to aspire to. You have to let them know there are positive things out there to reach out for."

Through his work as coach of the Augusta Heat, Marshall gave 40 athletes another forum to showcase their talents for the NFL, and now is doing the same with the Augusta Stallions. While other franchises folded as did the league, ultimately, the Heat was a springboard for several players.

"We put a lot of time and effort, but it just didn't work out as well as we wanted," Marshall said.

Despite the lives touched by Project Quest and Marshall's many other endeavors in his hometown, he isn't concerned with the way the public perceives him. He is driven solely by son Arthur III and daughter Aubern.

"A legacy would be saying I'm living for Augusta, but I'm living for my son and daughter so they can provide for their families when the time comes," Marshall said.

Reach Jimmy DeButts at (706) 823-3221.