Junior Seau Foundation
While the sports community is mourning the loss of a football icon, our Publix family is remembering and honoring the work of a man with a servant’s heart. Junior Seau had a passion and determination on the field, but in our hearts he will be remembered for the lessons he taught us off the field. This month, we feature the Junior Seau Foundation and their Shop with a Jock® program.
Upon joining the Miami Dolphins in 2003, the Junior Seau Foundation reached out to Publix, the official supermarket partner of the Fins, to replicate the Shop with a Jock® program created in his hometown of San Diego. The goal of the program was to help youth in need have a happier, more plentiful holiday season. While Seau had created the program to focus around the Christmas holiday, it made perfect sense to host the event around the Thanksgiving holiday at Publix. Based on an essay contest titled “What are you most thankful for and why?”, the Boys and Girls Club of Broward County selected 100 children to have a holiday dinner at a local Publix, complete with holiday party and disc jockey, too. After dinner, the children received a $100 Publix gift card to shop with a Miami Dolphins player, cheerleader, alumni or sports anchor for Thanksgiving dinner. To see the sheer joy and enthusiasm on the children’s faces were priceless and one of our most cherished memories.
Seau was truly committed to the program. The first year we teamed up to Shop with a Jock®, Seau met the Publix team prior to the night’s planned activities. Over lunch, Seau prayed for the children and a successful event. Immediately following, clipboard in hand, Seau walked the store to go over the layout of the tents and food and table placements, taking note of every last detail and making requests for changes. He wanted the children and athletes to have the best possible experience, and he was holding himself and the Publix team accountable. He settled for nothing less than perfection and perfection we delivered. We were amazed by his involvement and his desire to be involved with every last detail. He executed the event like he prepared for every game—playbook in hand, 110% committed.
Nine years later, the program continues with the legacy Seau left behind. While the program is now called the Kids and Fins Publix Shopping Spree and involves Miami-Dade and Broward County public schools, the heart of the program remains the same—helping children.
Thank you, Junior, for bringing an amazing program to South Florida and for allowing us the rare opportunity to see “outside the lines” of what giving back to the community means in the NFL. You will forever be missed.
To learn more about the programs, please visit www.juniorseau.org or www.miamidolphins.com
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