If you happened to be at Turner Courts Gym recently, while the BridgeBuilders KIDS After-School program was underway, you might have noticed Cincinnati Bengals’ defensive end, Michael David Johnson coaching the boys on the basketball court. At 6-feet-7 inches and 280 pounds, he’s frankly hard to miss!
In an era of self-absorbed, prima donna athletes, it is refreshing to see someone like Michael quietly show up asking if he can volunteer with the kids; no entourage, no cameras, just him wanting to help local kids growing up in a tough situation. Originally, from Selma, Alabama where he was not only his High School’s star athlete but also class valedictorian, Michael now lives in Dallas during the off-season.
Michael came down to Bonton and served last year just prior to the 2017-2018 NFL season saying, “I’ll be back when the season ends.” Sure enough, he showed up after the season ended in similarly humble fashion and he continues to serve. While he could certainly flaunt his NFL credentials, give the kids a thrill and be on his way, that isn’t why he comes. There is no sense of self-promotion to further his public image or to satisfy an obligatory task. He simply cares about these kids and wants to inspire and encourage them in any way that he can. Suffice it to say, the kids get a little excited when he comes!
BridgeBuilders KIDS Director, Shaun Grant (also 6’-7”), described Michael’s service as follows, “Invaluable!” His presence adds “a heightened level of importance to education and spirituality to athletics.”
How can you “Be the Bridge?”
This is one of our largest areas of opportunity for those looking to volunteer in Bonton on weekdays between the hours of 3-6 pm. These precious children are quick to respond to the loving attention that our volunteers offer, and the impact of our volunteers is enormous in the lives of these children. Gather a car-load, come down once-a-week or twice-a-month; go to dinner afterward in Deep Ellum while the traffic clears and make it part of your routine. You won’t regret it!
If you would like to serve in our After-School program, fill out the volunteer form here and someone will contact you to discuss next steps.