Miami, Fla.—Three of the state of Florida's most talented football alumni are playing for a little more than a shot at the Super Bowl this season, they're playing for a variety of youth programs around Florida, as well as their hometowns and current NFL cities around the country through the ‘Yards for Youth' campaign.
Anquan Boldin (Florida State University), Percy Harvin (University of Florida) and Andre Johnson (University of Miami) have established themselves as some of football's most elite playmakers. As leaders, they're coming together to create awareness and donations for youth programs through the Make a Play Foundation, a charity that partners with legendary Gator, Hurricane and Seminole players to provide academic and recreational grants for Florida youth programs.
Through the campaign, fans can pledge any amount (10 cents, $1, $100) per touchdown, reception or yard for the 2009 season, combining the fantasy football obsession with an old-fashioned jog-a-thon. Not only does each touchdown catch provide for their team this season, it will provide for youth programs and their adopted charities with the support of fans and corporate sponsors. Fans can also make a one-time donation or an automatic monthly contribution. 100 percent of fan donations will directly benefit youth and family programs, turning stats into resources and opportunities.
As top fantasy football picks, fans can also purchase shirts for a $25 donation, with profits supporting the initiative.
All three players have been a part of championship teams: Johnson winning MVP honors in 2001 as part of the Hurricanes' national championship team; Boldin was a freshman on the 1999 Seminoles title team; and Harvin put together a highlight reel during the Gator BCS championship runs in 2006 and 2008.
Florida State's Boldin will be participating to raise donations to build a new Boys & Girls Club near his hometown of Pahokee. Florida's Harvin will be playing for youth programs of Gainesville and Minnesota. Miami's Johnson will be playing for youth programs of Miami and Houston. A portion of the proceeds will also benefit the Make a Play Foundation's academic and recreational youth programs in Florida.
Johnson and Boldin have well-established charities, and are two players that are just as valuable to their hometown communities as they are to their teammates on Sundays.
Boldin's high school has recently named their new stadium in his honor for his contributions to the school and community. He was also presented the "Distinguished Service" award on behalf of the Pahokee Chamber of Commerce and awarded a key to the city from Mayor Wayne Whitaker.
Johnson was recently recognized as a finalist for The Home Depot NFL Neighborhood MVP award, having worked with numerous organizations in Miami and the Houston area during his professional career.
Harvin, the rookie, plans to establish his own charity within the year, and has volunteered his time with Gainesville's Shands Hospital, Children's Miracle Network and the Ronald McDonald House.
Fans can make a pledge to their favorite player online or make a one-time donation at www.makeaplayfoundation.org or call (352) 514-2681 for a pledge form. All pledges are tax-deductible, will be accepted throughout the season and will include all post-season stats.
Opening the 2009 season, the Make a Play Foundation partnered with Warrick Dunn (FSU), Kevin Everett (UM), Willis McGahee (UM), Ed Reed (UM), Myron Rolle (FSU) and Samari Rolle (FSU) to raise donations for a variety of charities during the week of the UM-FSU game. Last November, the foundation collected nearly 10 tons of food during the week of the UF-FSU game for Gainesville and Tallahassee food banks. The foundation has a variety of awareness events and fundraisers scheduled for the 2009 season. For more information, please visit the official Web site at www.makeaplayfoundation.org.
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ABOUT THE MAKE A PLAY FOUNDATION
The Make a Play Foundation is a 501(c)(3) organization that represents a unique partnership of former players of three of college football's legendary rivals—Florida, Florida State and Miami—and partners with established community organizations and individual player foundations to create opportunities for underprivileged children through academic and recreational grants, designed to promote confidence and leadership. The organization's goal is to use a collective voice to help promote growth and change for children and families in former players' hometowns.