By Mark Eckel, Player Engagement Insider
On the night Buffalo Bills running back LeSean McCoy was being named to his sixth Pro Bowl, and fifth consecutive one, he was hanging out with about 300 kids at a local YMCA.
McCoy’s accomplishments on the field, both with the Philadelphia Eagles, who drafted him out of the University of Pittsburgh in 2009, and now with the Bills, go on and on and so does his good will toward children in the Buffalo area.
Tuesday night, December 19th, just as the Pro Bowl rosters were being announced, McCoy and his foundation, Shades of Greatness, hosted 300 needy, inner city children for a Christmas for Kids Celebration.
The event, which took place at the William-Emslie Family YMCA in Buffalo, also included toy giveaways, food, music, raffles, and a visit from a guy named Santa.
It was another guy who goes by the nickname Shady that made it all possible.
“I was proud to be there,’’ McCoy said. “I come from the same background and it’s exciting for me to give back during the holidays. It was a fun night at the YMCA. And I really appreciate all the volunteers; we couldn’t have done it without them.
“Doing this means a lot to me. To see the excitement in the kids and to be able to put a smile on their faces, it’s just a great feeling for me. I feel it’s the least I can do to help the kids.’’
Two days before the event, McCoy passed the 10,000 yards rushing mark in his brilliant career in the Bills’ 24-16 win over the Miami Dolphins. To date, he’s the only player in NFL history with 10,000-plus rushing yards, 400-plus receptions, a 4.5-average-yards per carry, and 80 touchdowns.
Since his rookie year in 2009, no running back has more rushing yards than McCoy’s 10,011. The next closest is the Indianapolis Colts’ Frank Gore, who had 9,417 after 14 games this season.
In his almost three full seasons with the Bills, McCoy has rushed for 3,219 yards. His 6,792 rushing yards with the Eagles is still their franchise record.
“What we do on the field is great,’’ McCoy said. “And people enjoy watching us do that. But I feel it’s just as important to do things off the field. We have a platform as NFL players that others don’t. And I think giving back to the community and especially to kids is very important.’’
McCoy, nicknamed Shady by his mother from the time he was a child, started his Shades of Greatness Foundation after his grandmother Maryann Branch lost her battle with ALS. The fatal disease has become the driving force for the foundation, which has been dedicated to helping the fight against what is also known as Lou Gehrig’s Disease.
Shades of Greatness has provided direct support to individuals battling ALS to ensure a comfortable quality of life while supporting their family and caregivers in providing quality life care.
Over the past four years, the Foundation has hosted charity softball games in both Rochester, New York and Lancaster, Pennsylvania. Last summer’s game paid honor to Mike Maloney, a long-time Bills fan from Cheektowaga, N.Y. and a long-time ALS advocate, who passed away last February.
The foundation, every September, also conducts an annual backpack giveaway, and every November an annual Thanksgiving turkey giveaway in both Buffalo and McCoy’s hometown of Harrisburg, Pa.
“I’ve been blessed growing up,’’ McCoy said. “I’ve been very fortunate. Now, I’m just trying to give back.’’