Category Archives: Acts of Heroism

Celebrating Mandela’s Life and Legacy through Sport

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“Sport has the power to change the world.  It has the power to inspire, the power to unite people that little else has.” 

-Nelson Mandela

The 1995 Rugby World Cup was an international demonstration of the power of sport.  65,000 white Springbok fans cheered the newly elected President Mandela as he entered the stadium.  Forty-six years of segregation, hostility and oppression were brought to an end, the catalyst being Mandela’s support of the South African rugby team.  His support of the nation’s all-white Springbok team helped shift the attitudes of black South Africans, leading by example by way of forgiveness in hopes of a new beginning.  Apartheid was broken as a result of one man’s unwavering resolve to unite his country, and that unity was manifest in the stands of Ellis Park on June 24, 1995 as both black and white Springbok fans cheered their team to victory over New Zealand.

Nelson Mandela was celebrated and honored today by world leaders and international cultural icons who paid tribute to his life’s work .  His leadership, perseverance and commitment were unmatched, and his legacy has changed the world forever.  The sports arena has since been a gathering place for fans of all different races, beliefs and backgrounds who can share, if nothing else, a love for sport and their team.  Nelson Mandela’s legacy will continue to inspire athletes and leaders for generations to come, and the world will ever be a better place because of the impact he had.


Sports Leagues Give Americans Something to be Thankful For.

Football and Thanksgiving go hand in hand in this country.   But for the last several years, teams and athletes across all the major US sports leagues  have given families in cities nationwide something to celebrate and be thankful for… even more than just a W on the playing field.

Power Plays around the NHL

Since 1992, the Penguins have hosted annual food drives to benefit the Greater Pittsburgh Community Food Bank as part of the team’s Score Against Hunger initiative.  This past Thursday, the Pens visited Bedford Hope Center in the Hill District to hand out turkeys, vegetables and other complements to local families in need, bringing an early happy Thanksgiving to several members of their community. 

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Last season, New York Rangers alumni and staff partnered with Life Center; a Lower East Side shelter; to provide a special Thanksgiving dinner for 350 children and families who were affected by Hurricane Sandy.

MLB Pitches In

This year, the LA Dodgers went above and beyond.  Now in its 9th year, the Dodgers annual Thanksgiving Turkey Giveaway tripled the number of meals it provided, giving over 2,000 local families the makings of  a perfect Thanksgiving meal.


Slam Dunks across the NBA

Today marked the 15th year of the Utah Jazz We Care – We Share Thanksgiving dinner, where players, coaches, executives and employees,  helped serve more than 3,600 homeless and low-income guests a warm meal.  Along with a generous early Thanksgiving dinner, the Jazz also distributed winter clothing items and set up a play area and activities for the children.


David and Lesley West of the Indiana Pacers sponsored this year’s Come to Our House Thanksgiving dinner held at the Pacers’ home at Bankers Life Fieldhouse.  More than 650 men, women and children from central Indiana shelters enjoyed a Thanksgiving meal shared with the Pacers family in the event’s 16th year.

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Former NFL Player Takes it to the House

For the last 16 years, former Falcon Warrick Dunn has given families in multiple US cities the gift of homeownership. Homes for the Holidays was founded 1997 under the umbrella of the Tampa Bay Buccaneers community initiatives during Warrick’s first year in the NFL. The program has  expanded tremendously since its inception, awarding its 129th home to a New Jersey family this month.


When people talk about the power of sport, they’re really describing a potential to use a game– any game– to capture the hearts and minds of people and make a difference in their lives.  There’s no limit on what that difference can be.  The sports community has had a tremendous impact on fans and families nationwide, from lifting spirits with simple acts of kindness to putting the seemingly unattainable within reach, and giving us all a reason to be thankful.

Happy Thanksgiving, everyone!

Rookie of the Year

Photo credit: News Services, courtesy of Jonathan Willard

Every individual has the capacity to impact the life of another for the better.  Acts of kindness and generosity, no matter how big or small, have the potential to be immeasurably transformative; they are also often even more meaningful when they come from someone we look up to and aspire to be like.

On his way to training camp, Titans rookie Jonathan Willard found himself playing the role of hero on Tuesday when he stopped to rescue a family from their burning vehicle on a Tennessee highway.

Read my full piece here on Sports Networker!