Whether the topic is business, athletics, schooling or any other category of one’s life development, a level playing field and proper guidance would undoubtedly mix the company of the haves and have nots.
Everyone born into this world is not offered the same window of opportunity or matching support systems—but Miami Dolphins’ All-Pro defensive back Michael Thomas sees a way to help South Florida’s youth succeed regardless of their varying circumstances.
Thomas is partnering with Big Brothers Big Sisters in Miami, an organization geared towards matching adult mentors with at-risk youth. The mentor’s desire to invest their time and share life skills helps the nonprofit serve over 7,000 people in Miami.
Thomas’s new campaign, Big Plays for Big Brothers Big Sisters has layered purposes. It was created to involve his teammates, Dolphins fans and the community. Together with Big Brothers Big Sisters they are asking fans to make a donation of at least one dollar for each turnover that the Miami Dolphins defense produces in the 2016 season. Individuals who make a commitment of one dollar per turnover or a flat donation of twenty dollars will be entered to win a signed helmet.
The goal is to create greater community awareness and raise funding for the program to ultimately be able reach out to the staggering wait list of at least 1,000 children still seeking mentors.
Thomas is someone who was fortunate enough to reap the benefits of having a great support system during his developmental years. “I was blessed to have both of my parents in my life growing up,” he said. “I always had coaches who ended up being big brother figures and mentors for me—not only for me but for my teammates in middle school, high school and even now having great relationships with them.”
Many children lack that fundamental guidance needed to flourish and do not get it through family, sports or school. Thomas’ upbringing lent him experiences that prove having someone looking over you is an incredible benefit. “I know what that feels like,” he stated. “I know that having a mentor can impact you in such a positive way.”
It was a year-long process before launching the Big Play campaign for Thomas. He met with Big Brothers Big Sisters at another event and spent time trying to figure out exactly how they could work together again in the future. “Ideas were thrown around and this was one of them,” he said. “I felt like it was a no-brainer. It was right up our alley of what we were trying to accomplish.”
The proceeds of Thomas’ campaign are going entirely towards the Big Brothers Big Sisters mentorship program. He explained, “It gives the fan a chance to tie in with what’s actually happening in the community. It’s giving them a chance be a part of the game. It’s not just stats and fantasy football.”
Thomas is one of many athletes with a drive to be a part of something beneficial for the kids around various communities. Children are suffering nationwide because of disheartening situations stunting their mental, physical and spiritual development.
“Any stats that we get we are using for good,” he explained. “So I feel like it will have a great positive impact with our youth and fans. It is something that I look forward to continue doing and something that I am working to get more of my teammates involved with as well.”
For more information: www.pledgeit.org/mike-thomas
Vince Agnew is a former NFL cornerback who spent time with the Miami Dolphins and Dallas Cowboys as an undrafted free agent out of Central Michigan University. He is a CMU Journalism graduate and previously participated in the NFL’s Sports Journalism and Radio Boot Camp.
Since 2014, PLEDGE IT has helped professional athletes in the NFL, NBA, MLB, NHL, MLS, MLL, PGA, LPGA and Olympics support their favorite charities, as well as countless colleges, high schools and youth teams.
PLEDGE IT has also worked with large charities such as The American Cancer Society, UNICEF, Big Brothers Big Sisters, Children’s Hospital Of Philadelphia and the Ronald McDonald House and has been featured on ESPN, USA TODAY, Fox Sports, MSNBC, Sports Illustrated and Ellen DeGeneres Show.