On a day when President Obama urged all Americans to remember through service, professional athletes in Austin, Texas answered the call. These athletes joined in a special partnership between Athletes for Hope and the United Way Capital Area to participate in the Fall Day of Caring. These athletes included NFL players Octavius Bishop, Aaron Brooks, Will Mathews, and Mike Rosenthal; MLB players Will Crouch and Kelly Wunsch; Olympic gold medal swimmer Ian Crocker, NBA player Kris Clack, and Austin Aztecs goalkeeper Robin Martinez.
The exciting day began with a kick-off breakfast. Nearly 700 volunteers gathered at the Long Center in Austin to prepare for the day of caring. Not only were the volunteers energized by food, but also the motivational message of Will Matthews. Matthews, who was a standout running back at the University of Texas, shared why he chooses to give back to the Austin community he grew up in. "Will Matthews was awesome at the kick-off event! In his charismatic way he charmed the hundreds of volunteers who gathered at the breakfast kick-off. He spoke so eloquently of the importance of volunteerism making the volunteers feel appreciated and connected to our amazing community.
His passion for volunteerism helped set the tone for the day", said Diana, the United Way Capital Area Volunteer Coordinator. After the breakfast, the eager volunteers dispersed throughout the Austin area to participate in one of 50 community projects. Matthews traveled to the Kealing Middle school where he met the eight other athletes. The athletes were part of a team of volunteers who had the opportunity to get dirty and show off their gardening skills while preparing the Kealing Learning Garden for the fall semester. Middle school students use the garden to grow vegetables and herbs which they will harvest and share with their families at the end of the semester.
Not only did the athletes have fun, but they also had the privilege to see the fruits of their labor after they completed the transformation of the garden site.