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Local entrepreneur to donate 10,000 Zelosport games to soldiers overseas

The game’s in the mail.

Around Christmas, about 10,000 U.S. soldiers serving overseas will receive a game in the collection of Zelosport, originally developed in 1989 by local entrepreneur Spud Alford. It’s a modern-day version of paper football.

Alford knows that many soldiers fight boredom when not at work, and he’s seeking to fill that void.

“This is something I’ve always wanted to do,” Alford said this week. “What we don’t sell would just sit in the warehouse anyway.”

The games will cost $15 each to ship, which anyone can purchase through the Zelosport Web site. He said the company isn’t making any money off the charity drive. Games will make their way to Iraq, Afghanistan, Japan, onto ships and to VA hospitals where injured soldiers are recuperating.

In addition to football, Zelosport offers baseball, soccer and golf versions. A slick board allows players to roll a small ball in a plastic case to field markings. The soldiers will get the football game.

Alford has help with the promotion. Author Jill Conner Browne of Mississippi, who has a series of books called the “Sweet Potato Queens,” has mentioned it on her Web site; and all her national chapter “Potato Queen” presidents have been asked to pitch in.

Meeting over lunch about a month ago, Alford told Browne: “If you’ll talk about it, we’ll do a revenue share.

“Here’s the slogan she came up with: ‘Give your whole family the finger for Christmas,’” Alford said.

Two of Browne’s loves are a children’s hospital in Jackson, Miss., and the military. She’ll receive one-third of the $15, which she’ll donate to the Jackson Children’s Hospital.

In 2008, Browne did a book signing, decked out in a tiara, at the West Point, Ga., library.

Alford and Zelosport have been featured on CNN and “The 700 Club.” The NFL endorses the business. So does the College Licensing Company and the PGA Tour.

“People relate to the nostalgia,” Alford told the Ledger-Enquirer in 2006. “It takes dads back to the days of the folded-up paper football.”

Allison Kennedy, 706-576-6237.

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