Middle Tennessee Non Profit Helps Cancer Survivors Get Back In Shape

When Washington Redskins defensive lineman Jonathan Allen had the opportunity to switch from his NFL rookie number of 95 back to the No. 93 that he wore at Alabama, he made it more than a change on the roster page.

Allen autographed 100 of his old No. 95's and is giving them away to fans who donate $100 to sponsor deserving players in the youth football program in Chesapeake, Virginia. Fans hoping to land a jersey can sign up to sponsor a player on line.

With more time to devote to charitable efforts in the offseason, NFL players are involved in a variety of causes, with Allen's efforts for youth football players one of the unique programs.

NFL players from Alabama high schools and colleges are among those who've been working off the field this offseason. Some of their efforts include:

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When Tampa Bay Buccaneers middle linebacker Kwon Alexander planned the kickoff event for his Kwon Alexander Foundation, he seemed to take it literally. Earlier this month, the former Oxford High School standout hosted the LiTiRilla and Friends Kickball Game in Tampa, Florida.

"I did a kickball game because I felt like it would be fun," Alexander said. "I haven't played kickball since high school. (Rather than) do something that not everybody knows how to play, I feel like everybody can kick a ball."

Youngsters from Heart Gallery Tampa, an organization dedicated to foster children, got to play alongside NFL players in Alexander's game.

Alexander hopes his foundation can help at-risk youth through educational, mentoring and fitness programming.

Alexander also is one of the NFL players who has taken part in the HashtagLunchbag movement. The program puts together and distributes bagged lunches to people who might not otherwise have a meal.

Alexander helped prepare lunches and handed them out at Williams Park in St. Petersburg, Florida.

"People need it. People need to eat," Alexander said. "A lot of people don't have anything to eat. I'm just taking my Sunday out to bless people with this food."

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In January, Green Bay Packers safety Ha Ha Clinton-Dix opened his first Ha Ha's HERO Headquarters at Benjamin Franklin Elementary School in Milwaukee. HERO stands for hope, education, resources and opportunity. Ha Ha's HERO Foundation overhauled a room at the school and filled it with more than 600 books and other educational resources at a school where many of the students come from low-income homes.

Earlier this month, the former Alabama All-American hosted Flights and Bites in Green Bay to raise funds to outfit another Ha Ha's HERO Headquarters, this time in a school in the Packers' hometown.

"A community that is important to me, important to my family," Clinton-Dix said. "And going to school, I realized that education is important. It's greater than football for me, and just being able to give back to the youth who are going to someday raise our kids. I think it's very important to create leadership and give them the resources they need to be successful."

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Recent surgery on a broken forearm will keep New York Giants safety Landon Collins from playing in the Landon Collins Celebrity Softball Game on June 9 at Palisades Credit Union Park in Ponoma, N.Y. Collins said he'll still manage his team at the game.

The charity contest raises money for the Tom Coughlin Jay Fund, which assists families with children battling cancer. Coughlin was Collins' first NFL coach, and he started the fund after leukemia took the life of one of his players while he was the coach at Boston College.

The former Alabama standout will headline a team of current Giants, which will square off against a team for former Giants, led by ex-Auburn running back Brandon Jacobs.

Earlier this month, Collins recorded a get-well message for Brendan O'Callaghan, an 11-year-old from Paramus, New Jersey, who was hurt in a bus crash while on a field trip with his East Brook Middle School class. His teacher and a classmate were killed in the accident.

O'Callaghan suffered a fractured temple bone, broken collarbone, punctured right lung and a concussion. He returned home on Tuesday after two weeks in the hospital.

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Houston Texans cornerback Kareem Jackson's mother is a two-time breast cancer survivor and his sister is a leukemia survivor. That's why the former Alabama standout's Kareem Jackson Foundation is dedicated to providing resources and support for children fighting cancer and women dealing with breast cancer.

Jackson's latest fundraising effort took place last week, when the cornerback and some of his NFL teammates hit the links for Tee Up with Texans.

Kareem Jackson Foundation: Top Golf

Kareem Jackson and fellow #Texans teammates came together for the inaugural Kareem Jackson Foundation Tee Up with Texans, which provides resources and support to kids battling cancer and women battling breast cancer.

Posted by Houston Texans on Friday, May 25, 2018

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Tennessee Titans center Ben Jones held the Ben Jones Celebrity Clay Shoot earlier this month to raise money for non-profit organizations that assist at-risk children. A former Bibb County High School star, Jones was 10 years old when his father died in a helicopter accident.

"It's not a perfect life for anybody," Jones said. "I know I had my struggles growing up through injuries and losing my father, and I had people step in and help me, and they were great role models for me. The least I can do is help other people, especially kids."

Last year's event raised more than $90,000 for the Ronald McDonald House. This year's event benefited Alive Grief Support, Backfield in Motion, Endure Athletics and the Sports Fund.

Jones said the clay shoot had proven popular with his teammates.

"We chose something that I grew up doing and had a passion for, and it doesn't matter if you've ever shot a gun before or if you shoot regularly," Jones said. "Anybody can come out and do it and have a good time. It's not like if you're terrible at golf, it's a long five hours. If you go out there and miss one, you go out there to the next station -- you don't have to go find your ball."

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Carolina Panthers quarterback Cam Newton will hold his annual Kicking It With Cam celebrity kickball tournament on Friday in Charlotte, North Carolina. The Cam Newton Foundation fundraiser is a high-profile event at Memorial Stadium. But the former Auburn All-American has stayed active in kids' causes since the 2017 season ended.

Working with Dick's Sporting Goods, Newton took Special Olympians on surprise shopping sprees in Atlanta and Charlotte. Not only did each child receive a $200 gift card to spend at Dick's, but Newton helped them make decide what to buy.

"I heard the only disability in life is having a bad attitude," Newton said. "You see a lot of smiles on these children's faces, and that's contagious."

A 5-year-old Make-A-Wish child from West Point, Mississippi, was another of the youngsters touched by Newton this offseason. Kaydence Griffin and her family flew to Charlotte to spend some time with her favorite football player in April.

"She kept yelling his name and giving him high fives," Kaydence's mother told the Daily Times Leader. "She just kept hugging him."

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Denver Broncos safety Darian Stewart is planning his annual Stewart Standouts Education Gala on July 6 in Huntsville. The event serves as a fundraiser for the former Lee-Huntsville star's Stewart Standouts Foundation, which provides scholarships for students enrolled in technical-degree programs.

The deadline for scholarship applications for the 2018-19 school year is June 15.

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Last week, Seattle Seahawks cornerback Neiko Thorpe was among the NFL players who visited the sailors aboard the USS John C. Stennis.

While the U.S. Navy personnel might have gotten a lift from posing for photos and getting autographs from the pro football players and the Seahawks' cheerleaders, the former Auburn standout said he was thrilled to be on the aircraft carrier.

"I'm enjoying every moment," Thorpe said. "I'm like a kid when it comes to the military. I didn't have any family members in the military, but once I got older and met a lot of people that served, I started taking every opportunity to come to things like this."

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Tampa Bay Buccaneers quarterback Jameis Winston was back home last week to surprise a Bessemer first-grader who'd done a Black History Month report featuring the former Hueytown High School star.

Back in February I was caught by surprise when a 1st grade student from my hometown selected me to report on for Black History Month. Last week I decided to repay the surprise. #DreamForever pic.twitter.com/CLhcpXlQay

— Jameis Winston (@Jaboowins) May 22, 2018

"It was a surreal moment," Winston said. "I got to see him present the project that he had done. It was very humbling. I wanted to be there and show him some support, to let him know that he was noticed and I am thankful for him. ...

"Every time I go home, I try to be that foundation for those kids to show them there is a better way out. I always make sure I'm talking to kids about education. I want to let those kids know that it's not about being an athlete; it's about being the best at whatever you choose to do."

That education message took tangible shape when Winston opened his first "Dream Room" at Alexander Elementary School in Tampa, Florida, in April. The technology center, a project of the quarterback's Dream Forever Foundation, provides access to computers and electronics in a school where many of the students come from low-income homes.

Video: Bucs’ Jameis Winston greets students in new “Dream Room” and thanks teachers for all they do at Alexander Elementary in Tampa. pic.twitter.com/8LoFHRfOOz

— Greg Auman (@gregauman) April 3, 2018

"It was amazing to see all the iPads, to see the 3D projector," Winston said. "This projector is a better projector than I have in my quarterback room. It's amazing just to see the outcome.

"To find out some of these kids don't have Wi-Fi at home, they don't have the iPads and the data speed that they're getting in this room, I was like, 'OK, these kids need to be on a level playing field with the rest of the kids in the world.' Being able to give them these up-to-date resources, to give them a space to come in, it kind of leveled the playing field out and that's very important to me."

Winston's education-themed offseason also included a day as a substitute teacher at Raa Elementary School in Tallahassee, Florida.

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NFL players holding free football camps for Alabama youngsters

Youth football camps in Alabama hosted by NFL players this summer are open for registration.

Mark Inabinett is a sports reporter for Alabama Media Group. Follow him on Twitter @AMarkG1.

Source : https://www.al.com/sports/2018/05/from_bag_lunches_to_dream_room.html

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