Super Bowl Champ Roland Williams Mentors Kids to Eat More Veggies on Meatless Monday

NEW YORK — For Super Bowl champ Roland Williams aka Big Ro (Super Bowl XXXIV champ St. Louis Rams over Tennessee Titans in 2000), inspiring disadvantaged children to move from fast food to plant food is a labor of love. Roland, a graduate of Syracuse University, founded The Champion Academy, an innovative mentoring program for at-risk middle and high school students in greater Rochester, NY. Roland is an advocate for Meatless Monday.

Meatless Monday encourages the public to cut back on meat consumption one day a week to reduce the risk of chronic diseases such as diabetes, heart disease, stroke, and cancer, and lessen the environmental impact of meat production on climate change, water and land use.

The campaign is founded on research that demonstrates Monday is the day we are most primed to start and sustain a healthy new behavior. Since its launch 13 years ago, Meatless Monday has become an international movement in more than 40 countries with support from governments, schools, celebrities, restaurants, and local and global organizations around the world.

Roland wrote this open letter to encourage everyone to be a team player after Super Bowl Sunday by participating in Meatless Monday, a global movement to find innovative ways to make meatless and vegetarian dishes part of our everyday culture, customs and cuisine.

Open Letter

“Super Monday”: The New Best Way to Celebrate The Big Game
By Roland Williams, NFL Super Bowl Champion

As we draw one day closer to Super Bowl LI, I can’t help but to smile.

This past NFL season has been such a joy to watch. All the unexpected twists and turns. The re-emergence of the Cowboys and Raiders. The high-powered Falcon offense. The grit and determination of the Patriots. I even enjoyed watching the massive disappointments of 2016. As I type this letter, I’m still scratching my head about the Cardinals, Bengals, Broncos and Panthers this season.

But now, we are on to the main event.

The entire NFL season comes down to two teams. As a true fan of football, it doesn’t even matter that I have no vested interest in either team winning this year. Yep, it doesn’t get any better than this. I can’t wait to enjoy the entire day from the pregame to post-game confetti.

But this year, when the game is over and I’ve seen my fair share of post-game coverage, I am asking that you join me in two of the biggest games of them all; your health and our environment.

On Monday after the big game, be a team player by participating in Meatless Monday, a global movement to find innovative ways to make meatless and vegetarian dishes part of our everyday culture, customs and cuisine. For those unaware, it has been scientifically proven that skipping meat at least one day a week is beneficial for our health and the environment.

This past year, I’ve been doing it weekly with my three young sons and they love it! Then a few months ago, I went crazy. I joined forces with Celebrity Chef Danny Boome and local artist Michelle Cardulla and incorporated Meatless Monday into my favorite charity, http://www.ChampionAcademyRoc.org.

I’m telling you, this is a movement that deserves your attention. If you still need a few reasons why you should add this into your life, take a look at . You can thank me later.

Enjoy the game!

Roland Williams
NFL Super Bowl Champion
Meatless Monday Supporter

Meatless Monday is a nonprofit public health initiative founded by Sid Lerner, chairman of The Monday Campaigns. The initiative is in association with the Lerner Centers for Public Health Promotion at Johns Hopkins, Columbia and Syracuse universities.

Four Tips to Help Communities and Churches Battle Human Trafficking

WACO, Texas – Super Bowl festivities in Houston will be in full swing this week as the nation gears up for the NFL’s premier event on Sunday. Thousands of people will pour into the city. Unfortunately, those crowds will include those involved in human trafficking.

“We can expect to see an influx of out-of-town victims and trafficking solicitations during Super Bowl weekend. Much of that will take place online,” said human trafficking expert Elizabeth Goatley, Ph.D., assistant professor in Baylor University’s Diana R. Garland School of Social Work.

Goatley said large-scale national events like the Super Bowl draw attention to human trafficking, and it’s an appropriate time to make people aware of the epidemic, which victimizes hundreds of thousands of people within the United States each year. Globally, an estimated 20.9 million people are victims of human trafficking, resulting in a $150 billion industry, according to the International Labour Organization.

“Communities can make a difference in combating human trafficking,” Goatley said, “but it takes knowing your neighbor and your neighborhood and doing for the ‘least of these.’”

She offered the following tips to help communities better understand and combat human trafficking.

1. People must understand that human trafficking includes both sex and labor trafficking.

Human trafficking is the bartering or transactional engagement of a person for sex or labor, through the use of force, fraud or coercion, Goatley explained. Most communities and congregations focus on the “commercialized sex” part of human trafficking and often neglect those who are trapped in labor trafficking.

2. Human trafficking is cultural and contextualized to specific environments.

“When people say, ‘Tell me what human trafficking looks like,’ my response is always to reflect on how those in poverty are surviving in that community,” Goatley said.

In urban areas, she explained, it may look like the commercial sex industry (strip clubs, online ads, local prostitution tracks or brothels) or like day laborers who are financially exploited. It may look like childcare workers who never get days off, no breaks and little pay for labor; or it may look like a teenage runaway who needs food and barters sex for a meal or place to stay and is not allowed to leave.

In rural communities, she said, human trafficking may look like agricultural workers who are refused breaks and payment, or those working in toxic conditions and sweatshops. It may look like a family member bartering sex with a child to pay a bill.

“To best address human trafficking, people must know what’s going on in their communities,” she said.

3. Human trafficking is no respecter of race, gender, class or religion.

“There is no ‘type’ of person that can be lured into human trafficking,” Goatley said.

In a recent column Goatley penned for Ethics Daily, she provided the following examples of those who’ve fallen victim to human trafficking.

“Through my work in trafficking, I’ve heard stories from the 15-year-old competitive swimmer from the elite swimming club who fell for a guy she met on the Internet. When he asked for a meeting at the local mall to “hang out,” she didn’t hesitate. She told her mother that she was meeting friends at the mall, left home and didn’t return,” Goatley wrote.

“I’ve listened to a mother describe the struggle of providing for her family in her native country and the decision she made to sacrifice everything for a chance at a better life in America. She paid a coyote (smuggler) to help her cross into the United States, but upon crossing the coyote refused to let her go without a $10,000 ransom. She was forced to have sex with strangers until her debt was paid,” she wrote.

“I will never forget the story of the migrant worker who ‘followed the crops’ to provide for his family. He worked long hard hours in the fields picking a plethora of fruits and vegetables, pulling tobacco and tending to stables where he wasn’t allowed breaks and paid a dollar and a half a day,” Goatley wrote.

Fortunately, she wrote, all of those stories are of survivors who were assisted by local churches and other human trafficking organizations.

4. Get involved.

“Get to know the needs within your community,” Goatley said.

Is there a local school that needs adopting? Goatley said that research shows that third- and fourth-grade literacy rates have great predicting values on the path of a child’s life.

Is your church located in an immigrant community? Consider offering English as a Second Language courses (ESL), Goatley said. Research shows that immigrants that have better understanding of the English language are less likely to be exploited in the hiring process.

Is your church located within a community that experiences homelessness? Consider adopting a homeless shelter, Goatley said. Research states that runaways, throwaways (children whose families have put them out) and newly homeless persons are at a higher risk for human trafficking within the first 48 hours on the street.

“Additionally, people should pray and support anti-human trafficking organizations and advocate for anti-human trafficking legislation,” Goatley said.

The national hotline number to report any case or suspicion of a case is 1-888-373-7888.

Big Win for Richard Sherman and the Sherman Family Foundation

After finding himself at the center of controversy for an epic trashing talking rant against San Francisco 49ers receiver Michael Crabtree, Richard Sherman and the Seattle Seahawks went on to win Super Bowl 48 in epic proportions over the Denver Broncos. After a hail of racial epithets being hurled at him, Richard Sherman stated that a man should be judged for his activities off the field and whether he is an active member of his community.

rsherman1Raised by a social worker mother and a father who spent 30 years in public works, Beverly and Kevin Sherman from Compton, California instilled the value of giving back into their star athlete son. On July 2, 2013, Richard Sherman announced via Twitter the formation of the Sherman Family Foundation. Did I also mention that he is a Stanford graduate with a degree in communications?

According to the Seattle Seahawks blog,

With the help of his close family and friends, cornerback Richard Sherman has announced the launch of “Blanket Coverage – The Richard Sherman Family Foundation.” The All-Pro, Stanford graduate says the foundation will “channel it’s resources to ensure that as many children as possible are provided with proper school supplies and adequate clothing.” Read Full Article 

Prior to the formation of the Richard Sherman Family Foundation, Richard had already developed a reputation with his fans and the community as a charitable giver and philanthropist. He once organized an event for the Help A Hero Foundation which was attended by 7,500 people in order to help raise funds to purchase a home for an injured soldier.

The morning after a victory against the Arizona Cardinals, Richard Sherman went to Foster High School in Tukwila, Washington to speak with students about bullying and being a good citizen. He was also armed with school supplies and new cleats for the football team.

Despite Richard Sherman’s charitable actions and awesome play on the field, it was unfortunate that he and his family felt the need to defend their honor after the word “thug” was used to describe him over 48 times in the media after the win over the 49ers. Buzzfeed decided to take the time to re-introduce Richard Sherman and the Sherman Family Foundation in their ode to him entitled 23 Reasons Richard Sherman is Actually One of the Most Likeable Player in the NFL.

According to Buzzfeed,

Blanket Coverage, The Richard Sherman Family Foundation, provides kids with school supplies and clothes. Since Sherman’s charity was founded this past July, they’ve brought goods to four schools and nine community centers. Sherman’s stated goal isn’t “charity,” but leveling the playing field for kids who don’t have the things most people take for granted. Students sign a contract with him: In return for improving their grades, making good attendance, and being good citizens, he’ll continue to help them with clothes and supplies. The foundation also recently visited the Rescue Mission in Tacoma, Wash., and donated socks, blankets, shoes, board games, and books to 160 families who are homeless or trying to get their lives back on track after suffering from addiction. Read Full Article

I suppose Richard Sherman could use this Super Bowl win as vindication against the racial hate endured as a result of his rant against Michael Crabtree or maybe a possible I told you so could be in order. However, I think he will take the high road instead of taking a victory lap on his detractors. Richard Sherman had every opportunity to paint Michael Crabtree as a villain who at the time was being investigated for sexual assault, and the media never mentioned it while seeking an explanation from him about his on camera rant. Even, I was unaware until one of our writers wrote an article on sex and football.

Although Richard Sherman is still under a rookie contract, you wouldn’t know it from the amount he gives to charity. View the video below to see what the Richard Sherman Family Foundation has been up to in the midst of football season, and you can also connect with Richard on Twitter or on Facebook.

Photo Credits: Richard Sherman’s Instagram and Facebook

Peyton Manning Gives Back with his Peyback Foundation

peyback

In 2014, Denver Broncos quarterback Peyton Manning led his team to a 26-16 victory over the New England Patriots in the AFC Championship game, it secured the Broncos its first Super Bowl appearance since 1998.

Just as important as the win was the amount of attention given to Peyton’s chant, particularly his use of the word “Omaha”, in which he chanted the city’s name 31 times before every play and snap made. Omaha officials worked diligently to capitalize on the publicity generated by Peyton’s call, which he used 44 times during Denver’s 24-17 victory over the San Diego Chargers in the AFC divisional playoff game.

Established in 1999, Peyton Manning created the PeyBack Foundation which promotes the future success of disadvantaged youth by assisting programs that provide leadership and growth opportunities for at-risk children. The Foundation has donated more than $6.5 million to youth organizations in Indiana, Tennessee, Louisiana and Colorado.

For the AFC Championship game, eight Omaha businesses teamed up to donate $800 for every Omaha call the quarterback made against New England to Manning’s PeyBack Foundation for at-risk youth which netted $28,000 for his Foundation in that game alone.

According to ESPN,

Fresh off pledging $800 to Peyton Manning’s charity for each time he uttered “Omaha” in the AFC Championship Game, the Omaha Chamber Of Commerce says it will now donate $1,500 for each time he yells the word during the Super Bowl. Read Full Article

While many celebrities participate in charity as a means to boost their public image, Peyton does so out of a sense of obligation. Peyton described his philosophy when it comes to philanthropy in a 2012 Denver Post article.

“You are supposed to be part of the community and you are supposed to give back. It’s not a part-time job. You don’t play somewhere for six months, go someplace else and come back,” he said.

The article also states, “His PeyBack Foundation’s $4.3 million distribution included $800,000 to 147 youth organizations and $100,000 to Marion County court-appointed child-advocate programs representing abused children”.

Considered one of the best to ever play his position, Peyton Manning is statistically having his best season in NFL history. He’s finished the year with new records for passing yards (5,477) and touchdowns (55) and is the favorite to win the league’s MVP award. He was also named Sports Illustrated’s 2013 Sportsman of the Year. Peyton Manning and the Denver Broncos will face off against the Seattle Seahawks in the Super Bowl on Feb. 2.

With a communications degree from the University of Tennessee, Peyton talks about the creation of the Peyback Foundation in the video.

Seattle Seahawks Fullback Derrick Coleman Shares His Empowering Story & Inspires Young Fans

Regardless of who you are rooting for when it comes to the Super Bowl, there is no denying the empowering story of Derrick Coleman, Seattle Seahawks’ fullback.  Earlier this month, Duracell released a commercial featuring Derrick Coleman that showcased how he remained steadfast in his ambition to play professional football, and his refusal to be defined by his different ability:

The commercial has captured the attention of many across the nation, especially those within the hearing-impaired community.  At the age of three, Coleman was diagnosed with an incurable hearing impairment that caused him to wear a hearing aid.  Coleman endured the negativity of people telling him to forgo his dreams because of his hearing impairment.  Instead of allowing such statements and attitudes to influence his life’s path, he decided to work harder to achieve his goals.

Coleman had faced setbacks on his journey to becoming a professional athlete. His name was not called during the 2012 NFL Draft.Though he was eventually signed by the Minnesota Vikings, he was cut right before the start of the season. Most people would have given up on their dream after experiencing such crushing defeats, but not Coleman.

After being cut from the Vikings, he decided to go back home, stay in shape, and remain connected to the sport he loved by working at Troy High School as the running back coach. His determination and talent led to him being signed by the Seattle Seahawks in December 2012 and becoming the first legally deaf offensive player in NFL history.

Joining the NFL was his great career aspiration, but the focus Coleman has now is to inspire children with disabilities to achieve their own dreams.  In an interview with Sports News, Coleman stated that he “wanted to inspire people, especially children, to trust the power within and achieve their goals.”  Coleman’s youngest fans are indeed watching his every move, and are encouraging him to continue to break glass ceilings.

Riley Kovalcik wrote a letter to Coleman, and shared that she and her twin sister had something in common with the NFL star – they, too, wear hearing aids.  In the letter, Riley remarked at how she understood what Coleman goes through, she encouraged him to do his best, and stated that she had faith in him.  The letter was shared on Twitter by Riley’s father, Jake Kovalcik, and has since gone viral on social media.

Being moved by the letter, Derrick Coleman wrote a response to the girls, and tweeted his letter.  Coleman thanked the girls for showing their support to him and the Seahawks, and stated that they are more than capable of achieving their hopes and desires, regardless of their hearing ability.

As a person who has moderate hearing loss due to my disability, and wears two hearing aids, seeing Coleman’s story has had a profound impact on myself, like countless others.  Coleman’s story may be considered “inspiring,” but in actuality, he made the conscious decision to not allow his seemingly “limitation” to control his destiny.  Coleman represents the millions of people with different abilities in this country who are shattering glass ceilings and making a name for themselves in their respective fields.

We need more of these stories to be shared so that children, adolescents, and adults with disabilities will know that the only person who can truly hinder their progress is themselves.  Representation of people with disabilities in the media, sports, etc. is needed, and I am proud that Coleman is representing the millions like Riley and myself through his sportsmanship and by sharing his life story.

Duracell Derrick Coleman Commercial (Extended Cut)

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