By Lisa Zimmerman, Player Engagement Insider
Even before he was drafted in 2013, Travis Frederick, the Dallas Cowboys 2017 NFL Walter Payton Man of the Year award nominee, knew that he wanted to find a way to make an impact off the field. As soon as the Cowboys selected the center with the 31st overall pick, the Wisconsin native (and Badger alumnus) began to focus on how he could contribute in his new city.
Frederick took advantage of the various charity and community events he was invited to participate in, not only as a way of giving back in the moment, but to help determine where he ultimately wanted to put his primary efforts. Then he had what he called “an inspiration moment.”
“It started my rookie year when you get an opportunity to get invited to some of these charity galas where you’re going to support other foundations and causes,” Frederick said. “I saw how generous people [in Dallas] are, and then later on I went downtown with a friend of mine and started handing out meals as kind of a good deed. But then I saw the people getting these meals, and there were kids and they were so happy. Some hadn’t eaten in a couple of days. It broke my heart.
“I knew coming into the NFL that I wanted to do something. In that inspiration moment I knew what it was.”
The now-four-time Pro Bowler began the process of launching Travis Frederick’s Blocking Out Hunger Foundation. The stated mission of the foundation is, “…to provide support for inner-city and low-income children throughout Metro Dallas who struggle with hunger.”
To that end, the foundation is augmenting several programs, including Nourish to Flourish, which feeds school children when there aren’t free, or reduced-cost, lunches available. The program is about more than food because when children are hungry, their grades – and potentially their futures – suffer.
“There are kids that are going to school hungry and can’t focus in school,” Frederick said.
The foundation is also expanding the Nourish to Flourish program in the coming months when it will provide meals to children in need during their winter break.
Having experienced the process himself, and knowing that it can be overwhelming to try to hone in on a specific cause one wants to get involved with or direction to pursue, Frederick offers advice, especially to his NFL brethren, about how to take the first steps in that process.
“My message is, if you’re interested in doing something, go do something, and I mean anything,” he said. “You don’t have to focus on one thing. The (team) community relations people can set you up, or if you get an opportunity for something in the community, jump on it and it might impact you. It’s just a matter of getting out and being in the community.
“I think it’s something my parents always taught me; you need to give back. There are so many people that have helped me so, giving back to the community is a great way to pay that forward. I knew I wanted to use this platform to make difference.”
Lisa Zimmerman is a long-time NFL writer and reporter. She was the Jets correspondent for CBSSports.com, SportsNet New York’s TheJetsBlog.com and Sirius NFL Radio. She has also written for NFL.com.