12 NFL teams supporting children with special needs
With Football season winding down (unless you are a Giant, Patriot, Raven or 49er) We took a look at each teams community affairs page.
Each team in the National Football League has its own charities and organizations that it supports, with some players even having their own individual foundations. We found 12 NFL teams who have events, programs and foundations supporting special needs groups. Tell us what you think and let us know if we missed anyone!
The Giants started a relationship with the Wheelchair Football League in 2006, which is a national membership organization that enhances the lives of people with spinal cord injuries and disorders. In addition, the Giants hold a Snow Bowl and Punt, Pass and Kick (PPK) competition with the Special Olympics of New Jersey.
The Tony Filippis Bocce Tournament was originated in 2004 and raises money to benefit the Athletes with Disabilities Network and other charities in Michigan.
The Mike and Jessica McCarthy Golf Tournament is sponsored by the Green Bay Packers and supports the American Family Children’s Hospital at the University of Wisconsin-Madison in 2011 and the Autism Society of Northeast Wisconsin.
Under the Spirit of 12 Partners Program, community-based nonprofit organizations distribute game day programs at home games and keep 100% of the proceeds, which is matched by The Paul G. Allen Family Foundation. Special Olympics of Washington is one of the nonprofit participants.
The Lurie Family Foundation helps kids in need, emphasizing on education and health issues. A key focus for the Foundation is autism, and they work closely with groups such as Autism Speaks and Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia to increase awareness, advocate for individuals with autism, and fund autism research.
First Downs for Downs Syndrome teams with the Kansas City Chiefs Offensive Line to raise money for Downs Syndrome organizations and seeks to raise awareness of the disorder and create a positive image of those with it.
In the HEAL Zoo Walk, players and cheerleaders lead community members through the Jacksonville Zoo & Gardens and raise funds to support local Autism programs and education. In addition, Eugene Monroe, Jaguars starting left tackle, recently joined the HEAL Board of Directors.
Steelers players participate in the Muscular Dystrophy Association’s Pittsburgh Muscle Team event, which is dedicated to curing muscular dystrophy, ALS and related diseases. Proceeds from this event benefits western Pennsylvania families living with neuromuscular diseases.
The Cleveland Browns Foundation gives support to people at risk, and says it especially supports children with disabilities. In addition, the Browns partnered with Autism Speaks for the Light Up Blue event, where the Cleveland Browns Stadium lights up in bright blue for the entire month of April.
At the Special Olympics of Massachusetts Flag Football & Cheering State Games, hundreds of Special Olympics of Massachusetts athletes join Unified Partners and compete in a flag football tournament at Gillette Stadium and in the Dana-Farber Field House. Massachusetts is one of the first states to offer football as part of the Special Olympic programs.
In addition, the Patriots participate in the CVS Caremark All Kids Can Patriots Day. This day is a team initiative developed by CVS Caremark and the New England Patriots, and gives children with disabilities a chance to learn football, play football, and “get a small taste of what it’s like to be a New England Patriot for the day.”
Former NFL players
The Doug Flutie Jr. Foundation for Autism’s primary goal is to support families affected by autism spectrum disorders and to promote awareness of these disorders. The Foundation funds organizations that provide direct services, family support grants, education, advocacy, and recreational opportunities.
The Dan Marino Foundation looks to create awareness and opportunities for the autism and special needs communities. The Foundation supports integrated treatment programs and scientific research, and provides outreach services as well as employment and daily living transition programs.