Editor’s Note: The NFLPA Community MVP recognizes players who are making a positive impact in their local communities. Each week, the NFLPA celebrates one player who recently demonstrated his commitment to giving back and will make a donation to the player’s foundation or cause in support. This week’s #CommunityMVP is Chiefs tight end Travis Kelce who is passionate about helping Kansas City youth in unique ways.
Travis Kelce keeps finding ways to dance into the hearts of the Kansas City community.
A group of local children from the Boys & Girls Club got a very special shopping trip with the tight end to start off the holiday season. Kelce met two dozen youth on December 1 at JCPenney in Independence, and the store gave each child a $100 gift card to use towards gifts for his or her family.
Local police officers and Kelce walked around the store with the children and helped them pick out items for the loved ones on their holiday lists.
“Just to see the smiles on their faces when they’re grabbing gifts for their mothers and fathers, that makes you feel good,” Kelce said.
It was the second year that the 26-year old participated in the event. Last year, he filled in for teammate Eric Berry who had planned to attend but was instead sidelined for tests to determine whether or not he had lymphoma.
Kelce said that he returned for this year’s event because of its message. He enjoyed the lesson of encouraging youth to thoughtfully buy gifts for others instead of themselves.
“I feel like when you’re on the platform where you can influence a lot of people, you should take advantage of that and do it in the proper way,” Kelce said.
Inspiration from others
Kelce, who is in his third year with the Chiefs, said that his dedication to service is motivated by others in the locker room.
“My teammates are awesome when it comes to charity,” Kelce said. “Derrick Johnson has been here a long time and is always out in the community. Dustin Colquitt who I kind of model what I do in the off-season and in the community after. Chase Daniel is another good example.”
“They are guys of good character that you enjoy being around and that you consider your friends. They have shown me how it’s really supposed to be done.”
In March, Kelce participated in Read Across America Day, a volunteer opportunity that was optional for players since many don’t live in the Kansas City area during the off-season. He and three other players read classic books to young students.
“I’m a Kansas City citizen; I’m around all the time,” Kelce told the Wichita Eagle at the event. “This is my new home, and hopefully, I’ve made a lot of friends in the city. It’s one thing to be a part of an organization. It’s another thing to be a part of the community. That’s my job here, is to be able to reach out and put smiles on people’s faces. That’s why I love doing what I do.”
The Buddy System
In more than one way, Kelce is stepping into the very big shoes of the future Hall of Famer Tony Gonzalez, who had a prolific career at tight end with the Chiefs. On the field, Kelce was the team’s leading receiver in 2014, but he’s taking it one step further this season.
Gonzalez was a long time ambassador to the Shadow Buddy Foundation in the Kansas City area. The organization was founded in 1995 and produces condition-specific dolls that provide educational and emotional support to children and adults who are ill, medically challenged or experiencing any type of physical or emotional trauma.
“It’s a blessing to be able to help step in for Tony Gonzalez in the Kansas City area,” Kelce said when asked about his involvement. “I’m extremely excited to be doing a fundraising event with them next week.”
Shadow Buddies has provided more than a million “buddies” to those in need, and Kelce’s event on December 14 at Rock & Brews in Prairiefire is focused on helping the organization to hit its 2016 goal of 30,000 child-sized Super Hero capes and masks to pediatric patients.
Kelce is familiar with the outfit, as he sported the Super Shadow Buddy Hero garb for a visit to children being treated at The University of Kansas Hospital in October.
“I’ve been very fortunate to have a decent head on my shoulders and to be where I am today, but there are people out here who are struggling,” Kelce said. “For me to take the time to help others is the absolute least I can do.”
For more information about the NFLPA Community MVP program, visit: https://www.nflpa.com/campaign/community-mvp
2015 NFLPA Community MVPs:
Week 1: Sam Barrington (Green Bay Packers)
Week 2: Justin Tuck (Oakland Raiders)
Week 3: Matt Forté (Chicago Bears)
Week 4: Cliff Avril (Seattle Seahawks)
Week 5: Vontae Davis (Indianapolis Colts)
Week 6: William Hayes (St. Louis Rams)
Week 7: Michael Thomas (Miami Dolphins)
Week 8: Jacob Tamme (Atlanta Falcons)
Week 9: Malcolm Jenkins (Philadelphia Eagles)
Week 10: Don Carey III (Detroit Lions)
Week 11: Sammy Watkins (Buffalo Bills)
Week 12: Carlos Dunlap (Cincinnati Bengals)