SAN DIEGO (CBS 8) – In this Adopt 8 segment, we take you behind the scenes of a special photo shoot for the 2017 Join the Team Calendar.
The upcoming calendar will be the 10th edition, featuring Chargers players and Adopt 8 kids and to celebrate this special milestone, former Chargers player Nick Hardwick returned to the practice field for a special reunion with a few of the Adopt 8 kids he met during his 11 year career with the team.
Jacob was nine when he first posed with Hardwick for the 2011 calendar, featuring Chargers player and Adopt 8 kids, waiting to find forever families.
“I definitely remember this day, you're a better athlete now than you were then,” said Hardwick.
To celebrate the upcoming 10th edition of the calendar, Hardwick is one of several players recreating photos from years past to be featured in the 2017 Join the Team Calendar, and it's easy to see how much the kids have grown.
Siblings Johnny and Angelica appeared in the inaugural 2008 calendar with Hardwick. Johnny and Angelica were just seven and nine during their first photo shoot. Now, they're 16 and 18 years old.
But the most significant changes in their lives, between past and present, is that all of these children have found a forever home and are now part of loving families.
“It's amazing, I honestly couldn't ask for anything better. I can't thank them enough. I honestly always try to think, where would I be if they didn't adopt us, but I couldn't picture myself anywhere else,” said Angelica.
Johnny and Angelica said their first photo shoot with Hardwick, was the bright spot in an often dark life in foster care.
“I think just the whole part about not only getting to play with a Charger player, honestly I still brag about today, but it just being in such a kind of negative surrounding, when you have such happy, fun times going on those are the highlights, those are the things we always remember.," continued Angelica.
Hardwick remembers them too.
“They really stuck out to me as a good group of kids. I remember going home, calling my wife and going, 'God, if we were ready for kids, these would be the ones you'd want to pick up' and they're thriving. Great kids, obviously have got a very strong family," said Hardwick.
A lot has changed for 14-year-old Jacob, as well. He was adopted four years ago and said he is more outgoing than before. His family said he is a blessing and fits into their family so well.
Hardwick, who's now a father of two young boys, had this to say:
“Ten years ago, you come out here, you're 24 years old, you have really no idea what's going on. You just play along.”
But now, as a father of two:
“And then it really resonated that this is real, this is a real kid, and a real life that got affected.”
The 2017 Join the Team Calendar will be revealed and handed out at the Chargers-Dolphins game November 13th, with more distribution locations to be announced.
If you are interested in adopting or becoming a foster family, please call 1-877-I-ADOPT-U.
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Joseph is a toddler who was "safely surrendered" at a local hospital last year. He was just two days old when he went home from the hospital with a foster family who has since become his forever family.
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If you've always wanted to help a foster child, but aren't in a position to adopt, becoming a mentor could be the right fit. Dozens of foster youth in San Diego County are currently on a waiting list to be matched with a mentor.
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