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NFL & United Way Blog



During Draft Weekend, NFL teams recruited roughly 200 college students into the big leagues. At the same time, twice as many volunteers were “drafted” by United Way TEAM NFL to become readers, tutors, and mentors for students across America.

The charitable campaign between the NFL and United Way used the 2013 NFL Draft to “draft” their own new members, getting a few hundred pledges closer to their goal of recruiting 99,000 volunteers by 2014.

“I’m so lucky to have grown up with loving, supportive parents, but I realize that not every kid is that lucky,” United Way TEAM NFL member Vinny Rey of the Cincinnati Bengals said. “I always keep that in mind and events like this really inspire me to pay it forward.”

Motivated by daunting statistics of illiteracy and truancy, Rey is one of many NFL players committed to recruiting 3,000 volunteers toward the 99,000 goal—a strategy to help cut the high school dropout rate in half by 2018.

Three of the squad’s player reps took time off for this weekend’s Draft event to help develop a game plan and use the event to recruit volunteers.  Rey, Antoine Bethea of the Indianapolis Colts and Calais Campbell of the Arizona Cardinals agreed that the weekend was the “ideal” way to stay engaged with the community in the off season.

“The whole weekend was really exciting because we got to meet people willing to give up their precious time for this cause,” Howard University grad Bethea said. “I left feeling re-energized and even more excited to see how easy it really is for ALL of us to obtain our goals for United Way TEAM NFL.”

This optimism and revamped energy is exactly the momentum the organizers were hoping would come out of the Draft weekend. After two days of planning, strategizing and working as a team on feasible solutions, the team’s leader, Tracey Holmes of United Way Worldwide said “I cannot tell you how grateful I am to be working with such a talented, driven group of individuals on this mission to change peoples’ lives.”

In exchange for pledges, Bethea, Campbell and Rey gave back to the avid fans that swarmed Radio City Music Hall on Saturday afternoon by signing autographs, taking photos, and doing interviews to publicize the cause.

Missed the Draft? Don’t miss your opportunity to sign up for United Way TEAM NFL and help our guys tackle America’s dropout rate. http://www.unitedway.org/team-nfl