Monday, February 3, 2014

Be a Champion: Volunteer!

Cliff Avril wants YOU to volunteer  in your community!
Oh, yes, how sweet it is for Pacific Northwesterners: the Seattle Seahawks are World Champions! But for those of us who have been following the team for some time, we've known these guys were champions all along. Consider:

Quarterback Russell Wilson volunteers weekly with his wife Ashton at Seattle Children's Hospital. In the off season, he hosts a youth football camp and donates the proceeds to the Charles Ray III Diabetes Association.

Running Back Derrick Coleman volunteered on the day before the Superbowl with the Starkey Hearing Foundation in New York.

Defensive End Cliff Avril shares something in common with yours truly: he is a volunteer recruiter, through the United Way, for the Seattle community. "We're trying to get more people out there to go and volunteer their time for youth... get guys out there to volunteer their time and tutor, mentor, and do a big thing for education," says Avril.

Defensive Back Kam Chancellor volunteered and donated to Seattle's Union Gospel Mission and hosted a toy drive this Christmas through his Kam Cares Foundation, established to support "programs that have a direct impact on the under-served and less fortunate."

Defensive Back Richard Sherman has volunteered with Football Camp for the Stars, a San Jose-based event for athletes with Down syndrome, and with the Special Olympics. His charity, Blanket Coverage, raises money for inner-city schools.

Offensive Lineman Russell Okung founded the Russell Okung UP Foundation, and volunteers regularly, "to give back to the community by reaching out to children of single parent homes while offering them hope through activities and information on the importance of a good education and social responsibility." He also volunteers with "We Day," an organization with the goal "to empower a generation to shift the world from 'me' to 'we'".

Fullback Michael Robinson and Wide Receiver Golden Tate volunteer with Treehouse for Kids, an organization that aims to provide foster children with "the opportunities and support they need to pursue their dreams and become productive members of our community." Robinson also volunteers with the Humane Society and sponsors the Excel 2 Excellence Foundation, "established to develop underprivileged youths with team work, leadership, and life skills."

Running Back Marshawn Lynch sponsors the Bay Area Fam 1st Family Foundation, "dedicated to uplifting and empowering youth in the Bay Area and throughout the United States... aiming to build self-esteem and academic learning skills in underprivileged youth."

Offensive Tackle Breno Giacomini sponsors and volunteers with American Football Without Barriers, an international nonprofit that hosts football camps and supports local charities that provide basic living needs.

Coach Pete Carroll works with the Seattle YMCA and the Seattle Youth Violence Prevention Initiative, and founded "A Better LA," which "aims to reduce gang violence in inner-city Los Angeles by empowering change from within the communities."

Many of these, like Mount Rainier National Park, are local community organizations that accept volunteer time from individuals, whether you're a Lombardi Trophy winner or an employee of Boeing or Starbucks. Anyone can be a World Champion and make a difference in someone's life through volunteering. As Russell Wilson says: "Why not you?"

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