Carlos Dunlap has been named Week 9 NFLPA Community MVP for his ongoing, six-stop campaign to stop bullying among children in schools across the country.
"It's an extreme honor to be named as the NFLPA's Community MVP," the Cincinnati Bengals defender said. "My foundation focuses on education, healthy living and being a role model in the community, so along with our school supply drives, breast cancer events and tutoring, our anti-bullying literacy program fits right in with the mission and is very timely."
When 8-year-old Gabriel Taye committed suicide in January after being bullied at his Cincinnati school, Dunlap saw a need to help eliminate this epidemic. What resulted was a five-city campaign to tackle bullying that has made stops in Cleveland, Pittsburgh and Jacksonville to coincide with the Bengals' away game schedule.
The latest stop happened on Nov. 4-5 in Jacksonville, where the eight-year veteran welcomed 17 students from his hometown of North Charleston, South Carolina. On Saturday, Dunlap chatted with the students about bullying while reading the children's book "Malik the Difference Maker" over pizza. Each of the children made a personal pledge not to bully.
After it was discovered that one of the kids continued to be a bully after the session, Dunlap showed the importance of accountability by informing the student he was not allowed to join his classmates in Jacksonville for the game. Those who remained true to their vow were surprised with field passes at the game, where they took pictures with Dunlap.
"I realized [bullying] was a huge issue that couldn't be ignored," Dunlap said. "So whether you're the bully, the victim or the bystander, my goal is to get kids to understand that bullying isn't cool, not all 'jokes' are funny, and to please tell a teacher and your parents because you aren't along in this fight."
Dunlap, who has invited Bengals teammate Michael Johnson and Mike Mitchell of the Pittsburgh Steelers to his sessions, will make the last stop of his tour on Dec. 30 in Baltimore.
This campaign is one of several outreach efforts that Dunlap has implemented this year. Last month, the two-time Pro Bowler took part in his fourth annual spa night and gameday experience for a group of breast cancer survivors. Dunlap also plans to pass out turkeys at a shelter for Thanksgiving, provide Christmas trees for the holidays and continue his Dunlap Scholars program, which provides ACT prep tools for underprivileged high school students.
In honor of Dunlap being named this week's Community MVP, the NFLPA will make a $10,000 contribution to his foundation or charity of choice along with an in-kind donation to him on behalf of our supporting partner Delta Private Jets. Dunlap, along with the other 2017 Community MVPs, will also become eligible for this year's Byron Whizzer White Award, which is the highest honor that the NFLPA can bestow upon a player.
2017 Community MVPs:
Week 0: J.J. Watt (Houston Texans)
Week 1: Colin Kaepernick
Week 2: Chris Long (Philadelphia Eagles)
Week 3: Carson Wentz (Philadelphia Eagles)
Week 4: Max Garcia (Denver Broncos)
Week 5: Ha Ha Clinton-Dix (Green Bay Packers)
Week 6: Vic Beasley Jr. (Atlanta Falcons)
Week 7: Travis Frederick (Dallas Cowboys)
Week 8: Andy Dalton (Cincinnati Bengals)