There have been many greats to play the game of football. One of those unforgettable players is Jason Taylor, former defensive end for the Miami Dolphins. After a 15-year career in sports, Taylor retired and continued his greatness in another path by creating the Jason Taylor Foundation. The Foundation’s mission, according to the website, “supports and creates programs that facilitate the personal growth and empowerment of South Florida’s children in need by focusing on improved health care, education, and quality of life.” Taylor’s foundation has contributed “nearly $5 million in programs and services to benefit youth.”
Taylor believes that anyone can make a difference. “I think it just begins with the desire to help someone who is in a position a little more challenging than the one you are dealing with,” Taylor says. “This can be donating a book to a school, volunteering for a local organization, or even helping your peers in an area they are struggling. Sometimes it is as simple as listening to what someone has to say.”
The football great is the epitome of a role model. He’s extremely involved with the foundation and always has the well-being of the children as his priority. “I once had a coach tell our team that if we worked hard in our preparation, we ultimately deserved an opportunity to play. If and when that opportunity came around, however, we darn well better be ready for it because it may never come again,” says Taylor. “I believe very strongly in this message, and it is something we practice with the foundation. A lot of the kids we work with never really had that shot to make their lives better than what has been their norm.”
Not only does Taylor have a wealth of knowledge that he offers to the children on a daily basis, but he has the ability to view things from a different perspective that his career in football has provided. “Whether you want to be an athlete, a doctor, a teacher or an engineer, my advice is typically the same. First and foremost, you have to be willing to put in the work. Nobody is going to hand you anything in life, and if they do, you should really ask yourself why,” says Taylor. “And as hard as you may be working, you have to consider that somewhere out there, someone is working harder than you for the same purpose, which hopefully drives you to keep working.” Secondly, Taylor encourages youthful minds to pursue something that they genuinely love to do. Taylor suggests that there will be times when you don’t like everything about your job, but it’s important to ultimately enjoy the process. Along the way, seek out people who’ve walked the path before because their experiences can provide a vast amount of knowledge.
“I grew up watching my mother work two jobs, most times coming home after we already fell asleep, just to make ends meet. But she did it,” says Taylor. “My kids have a different existence, but the core values I try to instill in them are the same values. Ultimately, I try to teach my kids right from wrong, I try to be fair but also teach discipline, stress the importance of their education, hard work, and helping others, and always, always show them love.” The foundation also hosts #SpotlightTuesday to highlight a person or company that has supported its efforts to help children in South Florida. “We started the weekly spotlight to tell some of the great stories that allow us to be who we are and do the work that we do. From donors to volunteers, and of course to the young people we impact, there are countless stories that we feel should be told and this is our way to do so. Each and every one of them stands out in their own unique way,” says Taylor.
Visit the Jason Taylor Foundation website to learn more about this inspiring organization.