Former Yulee high school Football player, now nfl star, gives back And Connects With Kids
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Editor’s note: Contributing columnist, Steve Nicklas, expresses his views and insight on various topics in Marketplace.
Henry set the national all-time high school rushing record while at Yulee High – a truly remarkable accomplishment – and went on to win the Heisman Trophy in 2015 at the Univ. of Alabama. But he was not done.
Henry led the NFL in rushing this season, while leading the Tennessee Titans to the AFC championship game.
Fortunately for him, his contract is up, so he stands to make a fortune. Others will also benefit. Following a breakout season, the former Yulee High School football player is giving away lots.
Still early in his NFL career, Henry has set up his own foundation. He also has worked with local youngsters and is reported to be helping with funeral expenses for a West Nassau athlete killed in a recent shooting.
Yulee’s Tribute Signs Honor Henry
So it’s timely that new signs have been erected here, honoring Henry for winning the Heisman. The signs had been delayed (due to a purported lack of funding), but are now rightfully in place. And Henry’s accomplishments can serve as an inspiration to local youth.
Two All Foundation
On and off the field, Henry has made quite an impression on Nashville, where the Titans play. He founded the “Two All Foundation” to level the playing field for youngsters facing difficulties from their upbringing, background or influence. The foundation’s goal is to help these kids reach their full potential “by instilling strong core values in their lives.”
The foundation has benefited youngsters in the county. He has held “Derrick Henry Holiday Give-away Events” at Christmas time, donating toys he purchased himself to 500 children here. Henry also held a “Backpack and Bikes Drive” last July where he oversaw donations to 200 area children.
This past Christmas, Henry teamed up with a group known as “Pay Away the Layaway.” Henry proceeded to pay off more than $10,000 in layaways for 20 families in the Nashville area. “It’s a blessing to do something for someone in need,” Henry says.
Henry also has a heartfelt appreciation for another type of athlete – those in the Special Olympics. So Henry really took the ball and ran with it during a charity event. The Titans sponsored a “My Cause My Cleats” campaign whereby Special Olympians designed cleats to be worn by Titans players.
The cleats would be auctioned off after the game, with the proceeds going to the Special Olympics. Henry treated five Special Olympics athletes to pizza and joined them as they designed the colorful cleats he would wear.
Henry had a record-breaking game in the multi-colored cleats in December, of all things against the Jacksonville Jaguars. Ironically, Henry’s cleats drew the highest bid – of more than $8,000. The bidder turned out to be Henry himself.
He treasures the cleats, especially since he set a franchise-record in them. But more importantly, “They’re special because of the connection I have with those kids,” Henry says. Like the connection he has with the kids of Nassau County.
Steve Nicklas is a financial advisor for a regional brokerage firm who lives and works on Amelia Island. He is also an award-winning columnist. His columns appear regularly in several newspapers in North Florida and South Georgia, and on his website: www.SteveNicklasMarketplace.com. He has also published a book, “All About Money,” consisting of some of his favorite columns over the past 20 years. The book is available at local stores and on Amazon. He can be reached at 904-753-0236 or at [email protected].