Friday, December 28, 2012

Gridiron Giving: The Larry Fitzgerald First Down Fund

With a dismal record of 5 wins and 10 losses, the Arizona Cardinals haven’t been in the playoff picture for quite some time.  For the Cardinals’ wide receiver Larry Fitzgerald, though, the early start to the off-season means that he can devote even more time and energy to his personal charity, the First Down Fund.


A perennial all-star receiver, Larry Fitzgerald is known for his reliable hands and has already made his mark on the football field.  So far over his nine-year career, he has been selected to six Pro Bowls, has set several NFL and Cardinals records and is a Super Bowl Champion.  He's also got a great on-screen presence; check out this ESPN SportsCenter commercial, one of my favorites:
Less known, though, are his achievements off the field in bettering local communities.  Through his First Down Fund, Larry has supported many causes both at home and abroad. 


Earlier this year, Fitzgerald traveled to Ethiopia with another organization, Oxfam America, to visit a farm training center and an irrigation project, where he worked on the construction site for retaining walls that will capture rainwater and prevent erosion.  He has also made several trips to Asia and Africa with Starkey Hearing Foundation to fit children with hearing aids.


Here in America, the First Down Fund supports a wide variety of causes aimed at fighting cancer, building strong families and promoting good health.  Fitzgerald, whose mother, Carol, died in 2003 while being treated for breast cancer, was a spokesman for the American Cancer Society’s “Crucial Catch” campaign during October, which was National Breast Cancer Awareness Month.  The Fund also made significant donations, based on the number of his touchdowns and receptions during October, to several breast cancer organizations. 


To promote the cause of building stronger families, the First Down Fund was a sponsor of “Tying the Knot,” an event in his home state of Minnesota that combined song, storytelling and dance to celebrate fatherhood.  Larry is also a long-standing supporter of Big Brothers Big Sisters, several Boys and Girls Clubs and Plano Child Development Center, which is devoted to providing vision care to Chicago-area children (Fitzgerald had to deal with vision problems as a child). 

This season and last, the Fund made a $1,000 donation each week to a fan-nominated charity.  Funds this year have gone to: TyREDD, which raises awareness about the dangers of driving while tired; the Arthritis Foundation; the Weekend Backpack Program of FeedMore in Richmond, Virginia, which provides kids who depend on public school lunch programs with meals to get them through the weekend; and a Tucson, Arizona elementary school, which is getting $1,000 for their playground and another $1,000 for school supplies. Recipients from last year included the Juvenile Diabetes Research Foundation, Parenting with a Purpose and the Special Olympics of both Minnesota and Arizona.


To learn more about the wide reach of First Down Fund, and to keep track of what is sure to be a busy 2013 for Larry Fitzgerald and the Fund, visit their site at

Click here to find out more about Larry’s world travels.


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