While the players we met at the 2022 Senior Bowl are getting ready for the next stage of their careers, some of them took time out of their busy schedules to bring smiles to the faces of kids who need it most.
These visits featured: 🏈 Perrion Winfrey of Oklahoma 🏈 Cameron Thomas of SDSU 🏈 Leon O’Neal of Texas A&M 🏈 Braxton Jones of Southern Utah 🏈 Matt Waletzko of North Dakota 🏈 Sterling Weatherford of Miami University 🏈 Jordan Silver of Arkansas 🏈 Dameon Pierce of Florida 🏈 Tycen Anderson of Toledo 🏈 Chris Paul of Tulsa
“The visit was so much fun! Hands down the highlight of my week!”
Chris Paul, Tulsa Football
It’s always an honor to work with athletes at any point in their athletic journey, but it’s extra special to witness the next generation – days before one of the biggest moments in their lives – make an impact in such a meaningful way.
Unsurprisingly, the feedback we received from our hospital partners was nothing short of amazing.
“I just wanted to send you a quick thank you for helping recruit our amazing guests today. Matt, Jordan, and Sterling were so fun and really great sports. We were all truly impressed with their acting, drawing, and sculpting skills! Please let them know how appreciative we are that they took the time to play a game with us and answer some questions [about playing football].”
Leslie Scott, Child Life Specialist at Children’s Wisconsin
Another thank you to the Senior Bowl for making AFH a part of their offerings to players in February. We like to think it goes a long way!
If you’re a football fan, you probably already know what the Senior Bowl is. You already know that it’s one of the biggest pre-NFL Draft events of the season where elite prospects – and soon we can drop the word “prospects” and replace it with “players” – from all over the country are invited to Mobile, Alabama to showcase their talent to coaches, scouts and decision-makers from all 32 NFL teams.
What you might not know is that since 2017, Athletes for Hope has had the privilege of presenting to each Senior Bowl class and helping them understand how to turn their charitable passions into action while leveraging their platform as athletes.
From strict COVID-19 protocols to our session being the first in-person workshop we’ve held for almost a year, everyone’s 2021 Senior Bowl was a little different than years’ past. But that was really where the differences ended. Lead by Athletes for Hope CEO Ivan Blumberg, players were engaged, inspired and since our workshop, we’ve had countless conversations with them on how they can give back to their communities.
So apart from prepping for the NFL Draft, what have some of these Senior Bowl athletes been up to since January?
Alabama’s Najee Harris spent an afternoon at the North Texas Food Bank (NTFB) helping pack kid-friendly food items for NTFB’s Food 4 Kids Program which provides backpacks full of nutritious foods and snacks to elementary school children experiencing food insecurity. He also moved pallets in their warehouse (which in all fairness might count as prepping for the Draft).
Pitt’s Patrick Jones II has been volunteering at various food banks across southeast Virginia, packing grocery bags, stocking shelves and sorting produce.
Duke’s Noah Gray joined the Philadelphia Phillies’ Sam Fuld’s TD1 Sports Camp where he spoke to campers about his experience living with Type 1 Diabetes as an athlete.
Education is at the core of Athletes for Hope and at the beginning of every charitable athlete’s philanthropic journey. We know this is just the beginning for not just the athletes mentioned above, but for so many soon-to-be NFL players.
We know the draft starts in Mobile. Where does an NFL prospect’s journey in turning their charitable passions into action start? Answer: also in Mobile.
On January 26th, CEO Ivan Blumberg led a 1.0 workshop with a group of over 100 collegiate players from across the U.S. participating in the 2018 Reese’s Senior Bowl. The players were eager to learn how they can utilize their platforms to make a difference in their perspective communities. After sharing perspectives on each exercise, the players agreed they all had an opportunity to make a difference regardless how well known of an athlete they may be. Their theory was put into action as they all received charitable opportunities at various organizations in Mobile, Alabama following our workshop. The Starlight Children’s Foundation hosted a group of players at U.S. Women’s and Children’s Hospital. Players engaged with children during room visits and passed out autographed footballs.
This time of year, college seniors are pushing hard to get through the end of their last semester and are preparing for the start of their careers. The same is true for student athletes, many of which have their sights to the NFL.
Our team had the privilege of presenting to this year’s Senior Bowl class where top college football players would display their talents before the NFL draft. Some of today’s biggest NFL stars have played in the Senior Bowl. As evidence, nearly every season at least 30% of those in attendance will end up in the NFL.
Our CEO, Ivan Blumberg, presented to a room full of players and the coaching staff. By the end of it, nearly every athlete there signed up to give back to others through Athletes for Hope. The top three causes athletes expressed interest in were:
Helping children become more active
Helping kids get a better education
Reducing global poverty and hunger
The feedback from the event was very positive and many of the players offered their thanks and praise during the open discussion. For example, some of the comments said include:
“Great information that made me realize my responsibilities as an athlete”
“I had a clear understanding on the process to help the community and how I can be more engaged in foundations that I want to be involved with.”
It was an honor to present to the NCAA Senior Bowl and to work with the organizers on this effort. We look forward to working with this organization and student athletes to make this world a better place.