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 Cincinnati Bengal Carlos Dunlap for his foundation's Thanksgiving turkey giveaway and commitment to year-round service.
This Thanksgiving, thousands of families across the nation were able to share a holiday meal because of the generosity of NFL players. Fifty of those benefitting were at the Boys & Girls Club in Avondale, Ohio as Cincinnati Bengal Carlos Dunlap and his foundation handed out turkeys to those in need.
Thanks to a partnership with TBS Meats, the Carlos Dunlap Foundation set up shop on November 24 and spread cheer to local families.
As part of the experience, Dunlap said he had a chance to ask attending youth what they were thankful for.
"Hearing their answers and seeing the joy on their faces was the most memorable part of the event," Dunlap said. "It's such a humbling experience."
It was an especially fun event, Dunlap said, because his own Thanksgiving was a low-key day this year. The Bengals will host the Rams on Sunday, and his family isn't scheduled to be in town until after the holiday.
"I'm going to work in the morning, then eat, then probably take a nap, then eat again somewhere else," Dunlap said with a smile.
A Unique Foundation
The defensive end launched the Carlos Dunlap Foundation in 2014 to benefit his team city of Cincinnati and hometown of Charlestown, South Carolina. The organization focuses on helping local youth on test prep and other college readiness work, but it also looks for ways to give back in unique ways to special groups of people.
"Growing up there weren't any professional athletes coming around to show us the way or keep us motivated," Dunlap said. "I just want to be that positive impact in my team community and hometown."
Students, Survivors and Standouts
On November 18, for the second consecutive year, Dunlap partnered with Faces Without Places and Bethany House Services to throw a birthday party at GameWorks for homeless children in Cincinnati.
Dunlap said that his foundation "believes everyone deserves a birthday party no matter their economic status." Families were picked up from Bethany House in a private party bus and transported to GameWorks at Newport on the Levee, Kentucky where they enjoyed two hours of gaming along with cake and pizza.
On September 30, Dunlap hosted a spa day for breast cancer survivors and those currently undergoing treatment. His foundation truly focuses on making life more comfortable and more enjoyable for those who need it most. After losing a great aunt and the mother of his best friend to the disease, he decided a day of pampering for those who fought and those who will continue to fight was a perfect fit.
In June, he hosted his fourth annual football camp for children at Fort Dorchester High School in North Charlestown. The camp focused on the basics of football but also the importance of education, teamwork and healthy living. He also annually rewards the scholars of Boys Hope Girls Hope (BHGH) Cincinnati with a trip to a Reds baseball game after completing yet another successful school year.
Ready to Roar
Though it would seem to an outsider that Dunlap has a large number and admirable variety of community events, he's not satisfied. He thinks that there is still room for him help more people, and he's on the mission to do just that.
"I want to bring more awareness about my foundation, which will bring in more support so we can continue to do great things," said Dunlap.
For more information about the NFLPA Community MVP program, visit: https://www.nflpa.com/campaign/community-mvp
For more information about The Carlos Dunlap Foundation, visit: http://carlosdunlapfoundation.com/