New Bears player raises awareness for disabled children
The name J.T. Thomas may not be familiar, but to some kids, he means the world.
Thomas signed with the Chicago Bears in 2011 after playing college football at West Virginia. However, he never played in a game all season, so it didn’t surprise Thomas when all of the kids at the team’s annual holiday party didn’t know who he was, except for one boy, Anthony Grandberry.
Grandberry wanted Thomas’ autograph, which made Thomas’ day. His first season in the NFL wasn’t what he thought it was going to be, and this small gesture meant a lot to Thomas.
Grandberry has suffered from epilepsy for the past seven years. It is a disease that affects more than 300,000 children under the age of 15.
For Christmas, Thomas gave Grandberry some Bears gear, but that wasn’t all. On Feb. 4, Thomas showed up at Grandberry’s church and invited him and his mom to go to Super Bowl XLVI with him.
Thomas had driven from Fort Lauderdale, Fla., to Chicago where Grandberry lives. Along the way, he and his “Ready Ready” crew stopped at epilepsy centers to raise awareness about the condition.
Thomas also became a hero in May 2011 for Joslyn Levell, who has spina bifida. He took her to her junior prom because she didn’t have a date.
In an interview with ESPN, Thomas said, “I just felt like the people she got turned down by, they weren’t looking at her as a person. They were looking at what she didn’t have instead of what kind of person she was. I told her not to worry about it. Those things would work themselves out.”
Volunteering with kids who have special needs is nothing new to Thomas.
His younger brother suffers from autism, and Thomas knows they all just wanted to be treated like other kids their age.
Seeing how much he could impact children, Thomas started the J.T. Thomas Foundation, created to raise awareness for kids suffering from disabilities.
Stories like Thomas’ are not the ones that are typically covered on shows like Sports Center and others like it. Why is it that they focus primarily on the negative things that happen?
For example, after the Super Bowl ended, one of the most talked-about stories was about Tom Brady’s wife Gisele Bundchen blaming the Patriots’ receivers for the loss.
News stories should also include things like Thomas giving back and others like him whose pure motivations are just about the people they can help and not gaining anything else from it.
However, with most people being more interested in the scandals and drama-filled stories, there will always be a high volume of negative media stories.