Chicago Bears kicker Robbie Gould traded in his jersey for a sweater and left the gridiron to visit three local high schools for a day. At Metea, Neuqua and Waubonsie Valley High Schools, Gould challenged students to be leaders in their community.
“To be able to inspire young people and other people to be better people, better citizens and do great things in the community is always fun,” he said.
Gould himself has demonstrated leadership off the field, as he recently started his own charity, The Goulden Touch Foundation, to help those in need.
The organization’s current initiative “Kicking Hunger” is a food drive where District 204 students are collecting healthy food to feed under-privileged children, of which there are plenty. About one in five children in Northern Illinois, including in DuPage County, lack food security.
“Hunger is hidden in the suburbs because people often look just like us,” said Donna Lake, Communications Director for the Northern Illinois Food Bank. “Parents drive the same cars, your kids in school might wear the same clothes but the reality is these economic times are really rough for people so we’re seeing so more people struggling to pay mortgage, pay their medical bills, and the last thing they always spend their money on is food.”
The district’s goal is about four food products per student, or about 40,000 items total, by October 5th to give to the Northern Illinois Food Bank.
Naperville mom Jennifer Streder sits on The Goulden Touch Foundation’s board and it was because of her that Gould and his charity were able to partner with local schools.
“I’m just inspired by his authenticity in his wanting to help the community and doesn’t really have a single issue that he wants to tackle. He just wants to inspire people to do good,” Streder said. “I really have started to think of him as more of a philanthropist than the kicker for the Chicago Bears.”
Still, some of Gould’s biggest fans walked away with an autograph or photo with the sports icon while others left with a bit of inspiration.
“Well I thought it was actually pretty cool knowing that NFL players actually do other stuff besides hit each other on the field, that they help people in need,” said Dominick Muoghalu, a Sophomore at Neuqua.
“I never knew that he had a charity of his own and so i think that’s really cool. It’s kind of inspiring to know that they’re just like us and he was saying that he got there through hard work and school and I think that’ll help me progress in life,” said Jarred Cruger, also a sophomore at the school.
“It’s pretty unique to find how motivated they are and to be such great people in their community and it’s just been fun. It’s great to watch and can’t wait to see how successful it’s going to be,” said Gould.
Gould is already planning the next event with his foundation, collecting holiday gifts for needy families. For more information, visit www.gouldentouch.org.
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