Updated: Aug 22, 2019
I want to kick off our #WalkWithWarriors blog by personally thanking each and every one of y’all from the bottom of my heart for the love and support you have shown LaAdrian and I throughout our journey, and for following along in the creation of Waddle’s Warriors Foundation. We have always had immense appreciation for our military and first responders, and equally as much love for children. I often get asked, “why not just focus on one group to give back to?”, and “what’s the story behind the name?”, so I wanted to give a little background on each of those:
When we reached out on our social media platforms for help on a name, Waddle’s Warriors was one of the first to pop up, and I knew immediately that it was it. It couldn’t be more perfect. The definition of the word, warrior, is this: a brave or experienced soldier or fighter.
When we think of the heroes that put their lives on the line, whether it be here at home patrolling the streets, or fighting fires, or over protecting us and our freedoms in another country, they are the modern day warriors!
Our home is near Dallas, and I often think back to the horrific attack on the Dallas Police officers in 2016 that began on July 7th, and went into the early morning hours of July 8th in which a suspect targeted DPD officers, with a mission to kill as many as possible. We know now it was a targeted attack against police, but when bullets started flying at 8:58pm, all that the officers knew was that there was a danger to the citizens that they had vowed to protect, and their first response was to run towards the threat in order to protect the innocent. That situation and the officer’s response, of protecting the innocent and putting other’s lives before their own is how you can tell a true hero and a true warrior. The bravery those officers, and the warriors fighting overseas face for months at a time away from their families, and the bravery that warrior firefighters display every single run they get called to extinguish a fire, is something a ‘thank you’ will never adequately express our appreciation for what they do.
On the other side, we have our Waddle’s Warrior Babies.
When LA was on the Detroit Lions, we were fortunate enough to “adopt” a school full of about 80 three and four year olds in a very bad part of Detroit. I’m talking, we had to be let in the gated parking lot by the principal because the staff’s cars were constantly broken into, or even stolen. The kids weren’t allowed outside of the fenced in playground equipment because of how dangerous the neighborhood was. We would go there every day he had off throughout the season to visit, read them books and give them each their own to take home. Ever since that first day we walked into that school and came face to face with those sweet souls, the soft spot that we already had in our hearts from our own childhoods, for abused and underprivileged children, has grown by leaps and bounds. No child should ever have to worry about where their next meal comes from, if they will have a place to lay their head down at night, or whether or not they will have the same opportunities available to them, that their financially stable peers have. When LA and I would read to those children in Detroit on Tuesdays, I heard some of the most heartbreaking stories from the teachers about what these three and four year old kids had on their plate, and it wasn’t food. Many of them would show up to school every morning starving because they hadn’t eaten since they left school yesterday. When it came to the weekends, many of them wouldn’t know if they would eat those couple days. And for most of them, those books we gave them to take home? That was the ONLY item they had, at all, besides the clothes they were wearing, and for some, they couldn’t take the book home, because they didn’t have a home. When it comes to the mentally/physically/sexually abused children we are dedicated to helping, they endure things that no one should ever have to deal with, and they experience and are exposed to the evil in the world at such a young age. One of the children at the school in Detroit had a permanent scar on him from where his (pathetic excuse for a) father branded him. A couple other kids had burn marks on them from adults putting their cigarettes out…ON THEIR THREE YEAR OLD’S SKIN. Many of the kids were so timid because of the constant mental abuse that they had already endured in their short time here on Earth. And I personally have a soft spot for sexually abused kids, as I too went through it when I was six years old, and endured it for two years. Both underprivileged and abused kids, are stripped of their innocence, and forced to grow up at the time in their life when the only worry in the world that they should have is what princess dress they’re going to wear, or what action figure they are going to take to the grocery store with them.
Let’s look back at the definition of the word warrior, one more time: a brave or experienced soldier or fighter. These children learn from a young age what it’s like to fight; They aren’t given a choice. At a young age, they become accustom to caring for themselves and navigating their way through situations most people never face a day in their life. A child doesn’t get to choose their financial situation. They don’t get to choose whether they are abused. These kids, or warriors, rather, are thrown into the struggles of adulthood, or forced to begin their journey towards working through the myriad effects that being abused come with, and become brave fighters in order to survive…And we are dedicated to being with them every step of the way to get back the innocence stripped from them.
We know how tough it can be find extra money just lying around to donate, and we don’t want to collect y’alls hard earned money and just give it away to another organization in which you don’t really know where the money is going. When you donate to Waddle’s Warriors Foundation, you have mine and LaAdrian’s word, that any amount donated, down to the last cent, goes straight from the Waddle’s Warriors Foundation to giving back to active duty service members/veterans/first responders and children through our foundation, or as we like to call them, ‘Waddle’s Warriors’! We do not, and will not, ever take ANY money from donations to our organizations to use for personal use. I could go on forever thanking each of you, and expressing my love and compassion for the Waddle’s Warriors of the world, but I will close with this: We may not be able to change the world, but if we can change just one person’s world, then that makes every second and every cent spent on this foundation worth it to us! Whether that’s in seeing one soldier find hope that he thought was lost forever, when he comes to a Waddle’s Warriors Foundation event, or seeing a beautiful Waddle’s Warrior Baby smile because she no longer has to worry about where her next meal comes from, THAT is what we are dedicated to. THAT is what our foundation was created for. And THAT is what we will strive every day, and in everything we do through our foundation, to achieve. Thank you again, from the bottom of mine and LaAdrian’s hearts, for joining us in giving back to the Waddle’s Warriors among us. Together, we will #WalkWithWarriors.