Editor’s Note: The NFLPA Community MVP recognizes players who are making a positive impact in their local communities. Each week, the NFLPA will celebrate one player who recently demonstrated his commitment to giving back to his community, and will make a donation to the player’s foundation or cause in support. This week’s #CommunityMVP is Arizona Cardinals defensive end Calais Campbell for handing out 300 Thanksgiving meals on Tuesday through his CRC Foundation. He is also being recognized for his foundation’s weekly “Cheer for a Cause” program, which randomly selects one fan at every Cardinals game and makes a donation to the charity of his or her choice.
Every year, players on NFL teams elect one of their teammates to receive the prestigious Walter Payton Man of the Year award, an honor that acknowledges the player making the biggest impact both on the field and in the community. For the second time in Calais Campbell’s career, the star defensive end for the Arizona Cardinals was named the Cardinals’ nominee for the award.
A very small percentage of NFL players have managed to serve as a nominee for the Walter Payton Man of the Year award, nonetheless earn the honor twice in four years. It’s a testament to Campbell’s sustained commitment to improving his community.
Campbell credits his father for teaching him the value of being generous with your time and active in your community. In fact, when Campbell decided to start his own foundation, he used the opportunity to honor the man who raised him. He called his foundation the CRC Foundation, after his father Charles Richard Campbell.
“My father instilled the importance of giving back, helping those who are less fortunate and the value in education into me and my brothers and sisters before he passed,” Campbell told NFLPA.com. “And it’s important for me to carry on that legacy through the CRC Foundation.”
Through his success in the NFL, Campbell found himself in the best position to continue his father’s legacy. In the spirit of family, Campbell’s five brothers and two sisters are active with the CRC Foundation, and often work with him to put on foundation events.
“Even though our family went through some tough times, we always made a point to help others and that’s one of the things I want people to take away from the CRC Foundation,” Campbell said.
Since its inception in 2013, the CRC Foundation has been a fixture in the Arizona community. The foundation is perpetually active, with both annual and weekly events that support an array of causes.
This week, Campbell’s CRC Foundation passed out 300 turkeys and Thanksgiving dinners to those in need. Before going into work at the Cardinals practice facility, Campbell personally helped drop off 150 of the 300 turkeys and thanksgiving meals at South Pointe Elementary in Phoenix. Afterwards, he participated in the school’s turkey trot at a local park.
“I love interacting with kids since I still feel like a big kid myself,” Campbell said. “That’s always my favorite part of every event.”
Although Campbell had to go to work following the delivery of the initial 150 Thanksgiving meals, his foundation was able to provide another 150 turkeys and meals across Phoenix to needy individuals, churches, schools and families.
“I hope that we made a few holidays brighter with the hard work we put in today,” Campbell said.
Since 2012, Campbell’s Thanksgiving event has been one of the CRC Foundation’s most recognizable annual initiatives. However, his most unique initiative is the Cheer for a Cause campaign, which provides a Cardinals fan with the opportunity to select a charity of their choice to receive a donation from the CRC Foundation. For home games, one fan wearing a Calais Campbell jersey is selected from the crowd. During away games, fans participate via social media by tweeting pictures of themselves in their Campbell jerseys cheering on the team.
The total amount of the donation is based on Campbell's performance that game. Campbell's CRC Foundation will donate $500 for a team win, $1,000 for a one-sack game, and culminates with $15,000 for a five-sack game. A blocked kick will earn the fan's charity $5,000.
“Because I had three sacks against Seattle, this last week’s winner, Peter Gloria, got to pick where $6,000 should be donated,” Campbell said. “He selected Pan de Vida, which helps kids in Queen Creek. We’ve had some of our winners select animal shelters, the Wounded Warrior Foundation—a whole variety of causes.”
In past weeks, additional organizations that fans have chosen include the American Cancer Society and the Lupus Foundation of America.
“That is really cool for me to see all these great organizations Cardinals fans support and it motivates me to play better so I can write a bigger check each week,” he said. “I hope to donate a lot more money to my fan’s favorite causes through Cheer for A Cause, because that means not only am I helping out the Phoenix community, but the Cardinals will be winning.”
In December, his foundation will host another annual holiday event, “Christmas with Calais”. It is the CRC Foundation’s oldest annual event, entering its sixth year, and Campbell says it is one of his favorite days of the year.
“I will take 60 kids on a $200 Christmas shopping spree. Santa stops by, we have dinner, and I count on some of my teammates to help out,” he said.
Another original CRC Foundation initiative is the “Right Track” after-school program. Campbell created the program to reach out to children in the Phoenix Valley between the ages of 6 and 14. It offers youth access to tutoring, mentoring, and life skills they may not have access too otherwise.
With such a variety of programs, Campbell and his CRC Foundation touch the lives of people all across the Arizona community.
To learn more about the CRC Foundation and its numerous initiatives, please visit http://thecrcfoundation.org/.
Photos Provided by Lauren Renschler
Past NFLPA Community MVPs: