• Thomas Davis

    In his 11-year career with the Carolina Panthers, Thomas Davis has made a massive impact, both on and off the field. A five-year team captain, in 2012 Davis became the first known NFL player to return for a full season after three ACL reconstructions on the same knee; and in the last three years, he’s played some of the best football of his career.

    Selected as the 14th overall pick in the 2005 NFL draft from the University of Georgia, Davis puts his shoulder into as many charities as he does enemy ball carriers. In 2008, Davis and his wife, Kelly, started the Thomas Davis Defending Dreams Foundation (TDDDF), a nonprofit dedicated to providing and promoting free programs that enhance the quality of life for more than 2,000 underprivileged children and their families annually. Since its inception, the foundation has distributed more than $500,000 in aid.

    Based on the principles of educate/empower/defend, the foundation’s cornerstone program is the Youth Leadership Academy, a 14-week after-school mentoring program for low-income middle school students. The academy emphasizes areas like etiquette, public speaking, leadership and community involvement.

    The Defending Dreams Foundation provides a variety of other programs free to participants. The annual youth football camp serves over 350 young boys and girls and emphasizes the importance of a healthy diet and exercise in addition to teaching proper football fundamentals.  To kick off the school year, the foundation hosts an annual back-to-school supply giveaway, providing over 600 supply-filled backpacks to low-income students. Every November, Davis takes his teammates to a local restaurant to serve clients of the Battered Women’s Shelter a hot Thanksgiving meal. TDDDF also holds an annual Christmas giveaway, distributing presents in communities throughout the Carolinas and Davis’s hometown in Georgia.

    In addition to the personal time and commitment he gives to his foundation’s programs and fundraising efforts, Thomas is also actively involved with the American Heart Association’s Mid-Atlantic Chapter, the Second Harvest Food Bank, Levine Children’s Hospital and the Muscular Dystrophy Association.

    In April of 2014, Davis received the Call to Courage Award, given annually to a Christian athlete who displays exemplary character through both adversity and triumph. Davis was also recognized in 2014 as the  Walter Payton Man of the Year.  

  • Peyton Manning

    Peyton Manning completed 17 seasons in the NFL in 2014 – 14 years (1998-2011) with the Indianapolis Colts and three (2012-present) with the Denver Broncos. The only five-time MVP in league history, Manning’s 14 Pro Bowl selections tie for most in the NFL.

    Manning has made more postseason appearances (14) than any NFL quarterback, and he is one of three to take multiple teams to a Super Bowl. In early 2007, he led the Colts to their first Super Bowl in 36 years and was named MVP. A member of the 2000s All-Decade Team, Manning leads the NFL in touchdown passes (530) and ranks second in passing yards (69,691), completions (5,927) and wins (179).

    After missing a year with a neck injury in 2011, Manning returned as a Bronco and was named NFL Comeback Player of the Year in 2012. His record-breaking 2013 campaign (5,477 yards, 55 TDs) earned him Sports Illustrated’s Sportsman of the Year.

    Manning, the No. 1 pick in the 1998 NFL Draft from the U. of Tennessee, began the PeyBack Foundation in 1999. It has provided more than $10 million to at-risk youth in Colorado, Indiana, Louisiana and Tennessee since its inception.

    Manning also invests his time and leadership in the St. Vincent’s Children’s Hospital (Indianapolis), which in 2007 was renamed the “Peyton Manning Children’s Hospital at St. Vincent.” He serves on the American Red Cross National Celebrity Cabinet and the Pat Summitt Foundation. The Peyton Manning Scholarship program at Tennessee has honored 20 incoming college students in the last 16 years on the basis of academic achievement, leadership and community service. Manning received the Byron “Whizzer” White Humanitarian Award in 2004 in addition to being named the NFL’s Walter Payton Man of the Year in 2005.

    Peyton and his wife, Ashley, have 3-year-old twins.

  • Aaron Rodgers

    Aaron Rodgers was drafted by the Green Bay Packers with the No. 24 overall pick in the first round of the 2005 NFL Draft.  He became the Packers' starting quarterback in 2008, and ultimately led the franchise to a win in Super Bowl XLV following the 2010 NFL season, earning Super Bowl MVP honors for his performance in the championship game. Rodgers was later named The Associated Press’ Male Athlete of the Year in 2011 for his efforts down the stretch in the 2010 playoffs and his exceptional play during the 2011 regular season, one that concluded with his winning of the NFL’s Most Valuable Player award.  Rodgers has led the NFL twice in passer rating (2011, 2012), touchdown-to-interception ratio (2011, 2012), touchdown passing percentage (2011, 2012), and once each in yards per attempt (2011) and lowest pass interception percentage (2009).

    Rodgers is the highest rated passer in NFL history and is the only quarterback in history to have a career passer rating of over 100.0. He also has the lowest career pass interception percentage (1.7%).

    In his nine years in the NFL, Rodgers has been active in numerous charitable projects. This fall he partnered with Raise Hope for Congo, speaking publicly about his desire to see an end to the conflict in that country. Rodgers is also an activist for the Midwest Athletes Against Childhood Cancer (MACC) fund, an organization working to cure childhood cancer and blood disorders. Together with Milwaukee attorney David Gruber, Rodgers created www.itsaaron.com to build awareness for organizations and people who are making a difference in their communities. Additionally, he has been involved with Young Life and the Make-A-Wish foundation, among many other projects.

  • Jason Witten

    A seven-time Pro Bowl selection and two-time NFL All-Pro athlete, Jason Witten was a third round draft pick by the Dallas Cowboys in 2003, following his collegiate career at Tennessee. There he set single-season school records as a tight end for catches (39) and receiving yards (493), earning All-SEC recognition and All-American honors. In his tenth season in the NFL, Witten is one of the league’s top tight ends and one of the most prolific pass-catchers in Cowboys history. He secured his place in Cowboys legendry by breaking franchise records for most career receptions and most receptions in a single game. Witten also set NFL records for most receptions in a single game by a tight end and most receptions in a single season by a tight end. He is on track to become a Hall-of-Famer as one of the NFL’s top tight ends of all time. In 2010 he caught 94 passes (marking his third season surpassing 90 catches), had 1,002 receiving yards and a career-high nine touchdowns. Currently, Witten has posted four consecutive seasons with more than 80 receptions and 1,000 receiving yards. He was named the Dallas Cowboys Man of the Year in 2007, 2008 and 2010.

    In 2007, Witten and his wife, Michelle, launched Jason Witten’s SCORE Foundation, which has rapidly become one of the largest and most impactful foundations among NFL players. The foundation’s work to end domestic violence and promoting education made Witten a finalist for the NFL’s Walter Payton Man of the Year Award in 2007, won him the Home Depot Neighborhood MVP in 2008 and the Pro Football Weekly Humanitarian of the Year award in 2010. Witten and his foundation also launched the Jason Witten SCOREkeepers program, which places male mentors in family abuse shelters across Texas.  Additionally, the foundation opened the Jason Witten Learning Center at Boys & Girls Clubs centers in East Dallas and in his hometown of Elizabethton, Tenn. Witten and Michelle also dedicated the Jason Witten Emergency Waiting Room at the Niswonger Children’s Hospital in Johnson City, Tenn., in 2008.  In addition, the foundation operates a youth wellness program called “Play.Move.SCORE” at Boys & Girls clubs in Dallas and Fort Worth. 

    Witten’s other charitable involvements include the Salvation Army, Make-A-Wish Foundation and the United Way.

    Jason and Michelle reside in Texas with their three children: C.J., Cooper and Landry. 

     

  • London Fletcher

    A formidable force on the field, middle linebacker London Fletcher is known for his dependability, having never missed a game in his 14 seasons in the National Football League. He entered the NFL as an undrafted rookie in 1998, starting his career with the St. Louis Rams after playing football at John Carroll University in Ohio. He played four seasons in St. Louis, five with the Buffalo Bills and his last five with the Washington Redskins. Fletcher was the Rams’ Rookie of the Year in 1998 and then helped his squad secure the 1999 Super Bowl Championship. He was selected for the NFL Pro Bowl twice.

    Over his career, Fletcher has remained consistent, finishing his last 11 seasons as a team leader in tackles and leading the league at the end of the 2011 season. But his consistency off the field is also notable. He was the inaugural recipient of the Redskins’ Community Service Award in 2011 and was nominated for the Walter Payton Man of the Year Award four times. He started the London’s Bridge Foundation in 2003 to address the inequities facing underprivileged and underrepresented children. The organization hosts mentoring programs and supports projects in education, leadership, health and fitness and citizenship. Other charitable involvements include the Redskins’ Harvest Feast, school supply drives, “Fields for Tomorrow” program and visits to the Walter Reedy Army Medical Center.

    A native of Cleveland, Ohio, Fletcher and wife Charne have three children: Paige, Steele and Brooke

  • Drew Brees

    Drew Brees, a five-time Pro Bowl selection, Brees was drafted by the San Diego Chargers in 2001 after a college football career at Purdue where he was a two-time Heisman finalist. During his career with the Chargers, Brees was named NFL Comeback Player of the Year in 2004. In 2006, Brees signed with the New Orleans Saints. During his first season with the Saints, Brees led the team to an NFC South division title and led the league with 4,418 passing yards. In 2007, Brees set the record for the most pass completions in a single season with 440. Brees led the Saints to their first Super Bowl victory in 2010 against the favored Indianapolis Colts and was named MVP of the game. During the game, Brees threw 32 pass completions, tying a Super Bowl record. Brees was named the Sports Illustrated Sportsman of the Year for 2010 and the AP 2010 Male Athlete of the Year.

    In 2003, Brees and his wife Brittany started the Brees Dream Foundation, which is dedicated to advances in cancer research, providing care for cancer patients, and providing funds for rebuilding projects including schools, parks, playgrounds, and athletic fields in New Orleans, San Diego, and West Lafayette, Indiana. Since signing with New Orleans in 2006, Brees has tirelessly worked to help rebuild the city in the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina. Other charitable involvements include Operation Kids, Drew Brees Gridiron Classic, USO Missions, American Cancer Society, and Painted Turtle Camps.

    Drew and Brittany live in New Orleans with their two sons, Baylen and Bowen.

  • Kurt Warner

    A four time Pro Bowl selection, Warner has won two NFL MVP awards and one Super Bowl. After stints in both the Arena Football League and NFL Europe, Warner joined the St. Louis Rams in 1998 and became the starting quarterback during the 1999-2000 season. Warner threw 41 touchdown passes and led the Rams to a Super Bowl XXXIV victory over the Tennessee Titans. He was the 1999 Super Bowl and League MVP, joining Bart Starr and four others who have earned both awards in the same year. Warner led the Rams to another Super Bowl in 2002, and was again named the League MVP. Warner signed with the Giants in June 2004 before being signed by the Arizona Cardinals in 2005. Warner led the Cardinals to the Super Bowl in 2009, where they were defeated by the Pittsburgh Steelers. Warner has recorded the three highest single-game passing yardage totals in the history of the Super Bowl, has the 2nd highest average passing yards per game (260.4 yds/game), the highest completion percentage in a regular season single game (92.3%) and is the only quarterback to throw for over 14,000 yards for two different teams.

    Warner and his wife Brenda established the First Things First Foundation as a public charity in 2001 to promote Christian values and bless the lives of those less fortunate with projects such as trips to Disney World for ill children, building recreation centers in children’s hospitals, rewarding single parents as they achieve the dream of homeownership and teaching Special Olympians the football basics. All projects are centered on Kurt’s life theme of putting faith and family first. With their varied personal experiences used as the compass to guide the direction of the work of First Things First, the Warners have actively initiated more than twelve on-going projects which affect people in communities in Phoenix, St. Louis, and Iowa. Taking inventory of Kurt Warner’s tireless philanthropy paints a picture of a man who knows that his purpose in life is bigger than throwing touchdowns and winning Super Bowls.

    Kurt and Brenda and their seven children live in Arizona.

  • LaDainian Tomlinson (LT)

    LaDainian Tomlinson or “LT,” as he is known by his legion of fans around the world, had a season for the ages in 2006 as he set NFL records with 31 total touchdowns and 28 rushing touchdowns. His outstanding season was capped off in January when the NFL bestowed two of its highest honors upon LT, selecting him as its Most Valuable Player and its Man of the Year.

    Tomlinson and his wife, LaTorsha, have teamed up to become community leaders in both San Diego and their native Texas. Together, they oversee the Tomlinson Touching Lives Foundation. The foundation hosts events throughout the year, including youth football camps in San Diego and Texas, a golf tournament, a fishing trip for kids from The Monarch School for homeless and at-risk teens in San Diego, a Thanksgiving program in which they provide more than 1,000 San Diego families with complete holiday dinners and a Christmas program in which they give away more than 1,500 holiday gifts to the patients at San Diego’s Children’s Hospital and Health Center. At each Chargers’ home game, LT hosts “The 21 Club,” where he invites 21 kids from San Diego youth groups and nonprofit organizations to attend a game. After the game, LT invites the children down to the field where they get a one-on-one visit with their football hero and a chance to pose for pictures. Each member of “The 21 Club” is sent home with a goody bag that is filled with school supplies, books and games. Another important branch of the Touching Lives Foundation is the “School is Cool Scholarship Fund,” which awards 30 annual scholarships to college-bound students based on academics, community involvement and volunteerism.

  • Warrick Dunn

    Warrick Dunn, a three-time Pro Bowl selection (1997, 2000 and 2005), Dunn played his first five seasons with Tampa Bay (1997-2001) before playing six seasons with the Atlanta Falcons (2002-2007), returning to Tampa in 2008. He is an elusive, electrifying back who possesses exceptional game-breaking speed and quickness and serves as a dual threat as a runner and receiver. Dunn is one of 23 running backs in NFL history to gain over 10,000 career rushing yards (10,967), has rushed for over 1,000 yards in a single season five times (1998, 2000, 2004, 2005 and 2006) and has had 30 games of 100 rushing yards or more. Dunn is the only active running back in the league to have recorded over 10,000 rushing yards and 4,000 receiving yards.

    Since 1997, Warrick Dunn has been touching the hearts of single parents — in Tampa, Baton Rouge, Atlanta and Tallahassee. The Warrick Dunn Foundation and his Homes for the Holidays program has maintained the goal of keeping his late mother’s dream of home ownership alive by assisting hard working single parents in owning their first home. Dunn provides additional cash towards a down payment on a house and then surprises the new owner by furnishing the house with everything a first-time homeowner would need including: furniture, food, linens, gardening supplies, washer, dryer, dishes, pots and pans, toothbrushes, etc. He is also involved with Athletes for Hope, Boy Scouts and Hurricane Katrina Relief.

  • John Lynch

    John Lynch of the Denver Broncos is the winner of the 2007 Bart Starr Award. A 14th-year safety, Lynch is one of the most decorated active NFL players with seven Pro Bowl selections. Before joining the Broncos as a free agent in 2004, he spent the first 11 years of his NFL career with the Tampa Bay Buccaneers. Lynch served as a key leader of the 2002 Buccaneers, helping the team to a victory in Super Bowl XXXVII against the Raiders in a game played in his hometown of San Diego. He posted at least one interception in each of the last 11 seasons (1995-2005), a streak that is the longest among NFL safeties and second longest among all players.

    John and Linda Lynch formed the John Lynch Foundation in August 2000 to provide encouragement and positive alternatives for young people. In a time when violence and irresponsibility seem to be glorified, the Lynches are determined to reach students and instill in them the drive to become effective community leaders by encouraging dreams, providing programs that assist and motivate and recognizing achievement and excellence. Programs include John Lynch Salutes the Stars, John Lynch Star of the Month, Lynch’s Leaders, Legacy Scholarships and Christmas Party.

    John and his wife Linda live in Denver with their three children and are expecting a fourth child in March.