The Denver Broncos are not having anything close to a good season, but that isn’t stopping wide receiver Emmanuel Sanders from spreading good cheer this holiday season.
And it definitely isn’t going to keep 13-year-old Foune Fofana from being a huge fan - especially after getting a personal visit from Sanders at the Denver Broncos Boys and Girls Club last week to personally deliver a Centurylink “Boostbox” that includes a signed No. 10 jersey, a tablet, wireless headphones, Bluetooth™ speaker and more.
Fofana, who lost her mother suddenly two years ago, was chosen for the special gift because of her leadership within the local club. In fact, Fofana is part of the Keystone Club, a national Boys & Girls Club program that provides leadership development opportunities for youth in three focus areas - academic success, career preparation and community service.
Losing her mother at age 11 proved to be a really tough time for Fofana, and her life could have taken a very different path. But through the Boys & Girls Club, she has worked through the adversity and become a mentor to other children in the club.
.@ESanders_10 and @CenturyLinkCO have teamed up to surprise longtime @Broncos @BGCMetroDenver Club member Foune in recognition of her growth, perseverance and leadership at the club!#BeAChampion pic.twitter.com/MlL8OTZ5Ut— Broncos Off Field (@BroncosOffField) November 28, 2017
Sanders was also named the NFL Players Association Community MVP last week for his two-week winter clothing, book and toy drive for disadvantaged children in the Denver area.
“I am honored and grateful,” Sanders said. “As a community we have to stick together. At the end of the day, there’s a lot of people that are in need. I grew up in a disadvantaged family and I had people that I depended on, and now I have this platform. I’ve always said that when the time comes, I’m going to make the most of it. And that’s what I’m doing now.”
Thanks to the efforts of the Broncos wide receiver and New Era, six different Lids store locations in Greater Denver are collecting items between Nov. 22 and Dec. 6 to deliver to A Precious Child so that hundreds of children will be able to have warm winter clothing and a present to open for Christmas.
The holiday collection is an extension of Sanders’ “Gear Up” program in which his foundation provides financially disadvantaged kids in Denver with sporting equipment in addition to funding their sporting fees.
The mission behind Emmanuel Sanders Foundation, which works to provide resources for families in need, stems from the trials he faced growing up in Texas.
Raised by his grandmother in her double-wide trailer, where he slept on the floor among four generations of relatives, Sanders often went to bed hungry while listening to rats run through the walls.
Thanks to his grandmother’s efforts and his own unique football skills, Sanders was able to become the first person in his family to attend college, paving the way for his current NFL career and a platform to give back.
“We have an opportunity to be around the kids and give kids a dream – to inspire kids and that’s what it’s about,” Sanders said of his foundation’s goal. “This platform that we’re on, we have to take advantage of it. Use it for the proper things and that’s to better people and uplift people. That’s what we’re trying to do.”
Earlier this year, Sanders poured back into his hometown community in the aftermath of Hurricane Harvey. The two-time Pro Bowler raised $82,500, including his own $25,000 donation, to support the relief efforts in Houston. He also partnered with Randalls grocery store to provide water, diapers and food pantry items as well as tools for first responders.
Sanders followed that up last month by launching his inaugural Gear Up program, where he met with 10 local children and personally provided them with sports equipment.
“It has been humbling to see what my foundation has been able to accomplish so far for the Denver community,” Sanders said. “This is just the beginning ... I am committed to making a lasting impact through my foundation, and I am thankful for everyone that has played a role in supporting it.”