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When was the first time you became aware there was such a thing as a charity? I think the organization that first brought the concept onto my radar was the United Way, because football players talked about it on my family’s TV every Sunday in the fall.

The video interview that accompanies this blog post again features a football player talking about the United Way. Former Dallas Cowboys quarterback Troy Aikman was the guest of honor at the Dallas Influencers in Sports and Entertainment organization’s Fast Pitch, presented by Lagardère Plus. Aikman received the Heart of Dallas Award, presented by Southwest Airlines, for his longtime commitment to the North Texas area. He also did a Q&A on stage with Corby Davidson from Sportsradio 1310 The Ticket and Jennifer Sampson, the President and CEO of the United Way of Metropolitan Dallas.

The core of the event involves local children’s charities pitching, Shark Tank-style, to judges and the audience for a share of $100,000 ($15,000 of that total goes to the honoree’s charity of choice, in this case the United Way). Much of the money is generated by the annual SERVPRO First Responder Bowl (there’s the football/charity connection again).

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In the interview Aikman did before he went on stage, he touched on his commitment to the area and his embrace of the United Way. He, too, felt like his first exposure to charity had come while watching football on television. In addition to the monies they receive, the nonprofits also get the chance to spread the word about their missions. Each group staffs a table where attendees, most of whom work in the sports/entertainment industries can learn about what they do. Media covers the event. It’s basically another case of sports informing people about beneficial works in the community.

At its top levels, sport has that power. Teams and athletes start foundations, or embrace causes they find compelling. They use their platform to get others interested. And, one hopes, they influence people to continue be involved even some 50 years on – like Troy Aikman is.

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