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 in support. This week’s #CommunityMVP is Julius Thomas, who recently held a book drive for Green Lee Elementary School through his Reading Equates to Success Foundation and spent the day reading to the students.
In just his fourth season, Julius Thomas of the Denver Broncos is in the early stages of what could be a very successful NFL career.
With 12 touchdown receptions during a 2013 Pro Bowl season and on to a fantastic start this year, his on the field success in the NFL has already begun to be realized. Off the field and in the community, he has proven himself equally as accomplished. In January 2013, the talented tight end founded the Reading Equates to Success Foundation. The foundation’s goal is to instill in children the same passion and excitement for reading that Thomas feels is essential to a worthwhile education and success in life.
“Reading is my passion and something that I have done for as long as I can remember, I truly enjoy it and it’s one of my favorite hobbies,” Thomas told NFLPlayers.com. “I started Reading Equates to Success because I found a way to make an impact on the community through something I enjoy doing and am passionate about.”
Thomas comes from a scholarly background. His father is a high school principal and his parents instilled in him a passion for reading at a young age.
“My dad played a role in it, but I have to give a lot of credit to my mom, who made us go to Barnes and Noble every month and I had to pick out three books to read,” Thomas added. “I would grab six books and my mom would make me pick out three and save the other three for next time.”
Thomas carried his passion for reading with him into the NFL, where as a fourth round draft pick he battled through two injury plagued seasons before finding success. It was this success that allowed him to use his love for reading to make a difference in his community.
“Regardless of where you are from or what you do, the majority of successful people read,” Thomas said. “I saw that correlation and how it aligned with my hobbies and used it as a way to promote reading to kids.”
“When I was younger, people made fun of me for reading and I wanted to make sure that kids felt reading was something fun and cool to do. Kids could look up and see a guy who has made a career out of football and he reads and thinks it’s cool.”
Last month, the Reading Equates to Success Foundation held a book drive and donated every book collected to Green Lee Elementary School in Denver. Despite a long line of football fans that wrapped around the corner of the Barnes and Noble Downtown Denver, Thomas made sure to meet and thank everyone for coming out to support the book drive, which collected more than 300 books.
During his day off on September 23, Thomas spent time with students at Green Lee Elementary and read Pete the Cat: I Love My White Shoes to a number of classes. He also invited the children to dance along with him to a musical YouTube version of the book, showing the children how much fun they can have with books.
“The book drive turnout alone and the opportunity to interact with fans was great, but it was also really exciting to see how many people came out to participate and give to a great cause,” Thomas said. “And school visits are always the best because the part that I truly enjoy is being able to interact with kids. They have a certain energy and appreciation for everything, which makes you feel like all you have done is worth it.”
Video highlights of Thomas’ book drive and school visit can be viewed here: http://bit.ly/111SCcl
For more on Thomas’ Reading Equates to Success Foundation programs and upcoming events, or to make donations, please visit http://www.readingequatestosuccess.org/Home.html.