Posts Tagged ‘Albert Wilson’

Albert Wilson Makes Impact Through Philanthropy, Community Service Initiatives

Friday, November 22nd, 2019
Dolphins wide receiver Albert Wilson hosts an annual Youth Skills Camp in his hometown of Fort Pierce, Fla. Image Credit: AWF – ithinkisee12.com

In Week 8, Dolfans NYC raised over $250 through raffles and donated a total of $500 to The Albert Wilson Foundation, which is committed to creating opportunities that will enhance the lives of children in foster care. 

After spending much of his childhood in the South Florida foster care system, Miami Dolphins wide receiver Albert Wilson understands, as well as anyone, the importance of giving back to youth in his community and helping to improve the lives of those less fortunate. 

So whether he’s devoting his time or money through the foundation he founded in 2016, Wilson begins each day by asking himself the same central question. 

“How can I make a foster kid’s day better?” 

That objective entails free, year-round activities for foster children, including youth camps, book drives and holiday giveaways. Wilson, who earned an athletic scholarship to Georgia State, also hopes to open doors for children seeking to continue their education outside of Florida. 

“Growing up in foster care, and (having) the opportunity to go to Georgia State, I feel like that was my opportunity to grow and become a better person,” he said. “I don’t want to limit the people in foster care, so our main goal is to get out-of-state scholarships to foster kids.” 

As an advocate for foster children, the Fort Pierce, Fla. native recognizes he can make a difference through face-to-face conversations with youngsters in need of guidance from someone who, not too long ago, was in their shoes. 

“If it’s just me going over and saying, ‘Hey,’ or if I have to go to a home and talk to the kids, or be that distant role model or that distant big brother for them,” he said, “I just try to (help) any way I can.” 

The stories he hears resonate with the 27-year-old, who’s experienced the same frustration and the same despair. 

Wilson was placed in foster care twice: for several months at age 6, and again from 12 until he aged out of the system at 18. During those years, while his parents were incarcerated, he shuttled between group homes and foster homes, too many to keep track, until finding security with the Bailey family in Port St. Lucie. 

“I love those guys. I met them, maybe a couple of days after the second time I went into the foster care system, when I was in eighth grade,” Wilson said. “I ended up living with them for maybe a year and some change; I want to say (until) my (sophomore) year of high school. They’re a great family. They took in tons of kids and ended up adopting eight.” 

When he speaks to foster parents nowadays, Wilson leans on his ongoing relationship with the Baileys, caring people who “do it the right way,” to provide a guideline of how the foster care system is ideally designed to work. 

During his stay, he found comfort and support, and more importantly, quickly learned to not blame himself for his circumstances. 

“(It’s important) to let the kids know that it’s not their fault that they’re in foster care,” Wilson said. “A lot of kids feel like it’s something they did wrong or they feel like they got the short end of the stick. I want to be out there and let them know that it’s totally the opposite. It’s not their fault and they definitely have the long end of the stick because someone who didn’t know you the day before had the faith and the love to bring you into their home and try to do their best to raise you.” 

In 10th grade, he moved in with Robert and Sherri Brown, parents of a high school friend, who he later learned were his cousins. By then, his parents were released from prison, but once Sherri completed her certification to become a foster parent, Wilson opted to remain with her, in Port St. Lucie, in order to stay in the same high school.  

Wilson knew returning to Fort Pierce, a city that, at the time, had one of the highest crime rates in the state, could jeopardize his long-held goal of reaching the NFL. As a dual-threat quarterback at Port St. Lucie, he began attracting college scouts at games.  

“Fort Pierce is a low-class neighborhood; everybody was just trying to survive and make ends meet,” he said. “Football was pretty much always my escape from that. Football was that one thing that was consistent to me.” 

Undrafted out of college, the 5-foot-9 speedster impressed at Chiefs rookie camp and earned his first contract. Four years later, he returned to South Florida, this time as a member of the Dolphins, with the platform to help foster children in the same kinds of unstable situations he once faced. 

Looking back, Wilson knows he’s one of the lucky ones, that few find one, much less two families as inviting and nurturing as the Baileys and Browns, without whom he likely never would’ve reached the pros. 

“For me, knowing how it is to be with a family, and just having that family support, it was awesome,” he said. “I’m trying to break the line to where (being in foster care) feels like family and doesn’t feel like you’re in a stranger’s home for years.” 

Wilson, an inspiration to innumerable adolescents, relays a simple message he hopes serves as motivation during challenging times. 

“I try to tell them it’s possible; that I did it, and your dreams can happen,” he said. “(I’m hopeful) I can (convince) them to go down the right path, and grow up and be whatever they want to be.” 

Dolphins Promote Harmony, Inclusion Though Football Unites Program

Monday, September 9th, 2019

It’s just past 10 o’clock on Sunday morning, three hours before the Dolphins will kick off the 2019 season against the Ravens, and the North East plaza at Hard Rock Stadium is bustling with activity.

At the team’s fourth-annual Football Unites CommUNITY Tailgate, large overhead fans are whirling at full capacity, while a DJ shuffles between mid-1990s and early 2000s hip-hop classics – 2Pac and Ja Rule are the biggest crowd-pleasers – and radio-friendly Drake hits.

A behemoth foosball table in the right corner clicks and clacks, and to the left, an assembly line of young members from Davie Police Athletic League (PAL) and 5000 Role Models packs kits with hygiene supplies to distribute to those affected by Hurricane Dorian in the Bahamas.

Hot and cold food stations on the opposite end of the plaza are stocked with hamburgers, salads, chips and an assortment of sugary treats, and adjacent refrigerators are crammed with water bottles and soda cans.

“Our owner, Stephen Ross, our players and coaches paid for this tailgate with the idea of bringing four to five groups that would’ve never thought of connecting in their regular walks of life,” said Jason Jenkins, Dolphins Senior Vice President of Communications and Community Affairs. “South Florida is a melting pot of a lot of intersections, and we want to make sure that we’re reflective of all the groups that are coming here.”

The initiative is part of a series of community service projects planned for the 2019 season, which also include ride-along programs designed to foster positive communication between police and youth, as well as cultural tours through a partnership with the Greater Miami Convention & Visitors Bureau.

While some of the Dolphins’ previous social-progress leaders, including Kenny Stills, a three-time Nat Moore Community Service Award winner, are no longer on the team, Raekwon McMillan, Bobby McCain, Jerome Baker, Albert Wilson and Xavien Howard are among the players who’ve carried on the legacy of their predecessors.

Dolphins alumni, including tailgate attendees Nate Garner, an offensive tackle from 2008 to 2014, and Ed Perry, a tight end and long snapper from 1997 to 2004, have also continued to be prominently involved in efforts to unite people of different races, genders, sexual orientations and identities through sports.

“Our players have been extremely supportive and active, not only financially, but with their time to the program,” Jenkins said. “We’re stewards in this community and this brand. We have this commitment and responsibility to make sure we can make South Florida united, make South Florida healthy and make South Florida more educated, as well.

“Our owner has been there every step of the way. (Vice Chairman, President and CEO) Tom Garfinkel really gave us the opportunity to lay out this vision, and it’s great that (we’re) seeing it come to fruition each and every day.”

Since its inception in 2015, the tailgate has grown organically, primarily through word of mouth, from 10 participating organizations to over 60.

Jenkins believes that’s only the beginning.

“Our capacity is limitless in what we want to do,” he said. “We believe in humanity, we believe in football having the ability to bring people together and we’re very fortunate to be able to provide these platforms to bring our youth together.”

Dolphins Stars Appreciate ‘Awesome’ Dolfans NYC Reception

Thursday, September 27th, 2018

Dolphins DB Minkah Fitzpatrick Celebrates a defensive stop.
Photo: Allen Eyestone/The Palm Beach Post

A native of Old Bridge Township, N.J., Dolphins defensive back Minkah Fitzpatrick expected to see around 30 close friends and family members in the lower-level seats at nearby MetLife Stadium.

The standout rookie didn’t envision over 1,000 aqua-and-orange-decked fans cheering for him and his teammates from the upper deck, their raucous reception rendering the return to his home state even more special.

“It was awesome,” Fitzpatrick said. “I saw a lot of people out there. At one point, they were chanting, ‘Go Dolphins!’ That was really cool hearing them, and that somebody at the stadium started that chant. It was a lot of fun.”

Fellow first-year player Jerome Baker, in awe of the inescapable crowd noise, reached out to Renzo Sheppard, Dolphins Football Communications Manager, to find out why Miami had such an overwhelming presence on an opposing team’s home turf.

“Even just pulling in, you could see the tailgating, you could see our fans were there, and I was just surprised by that,” Baker said. “Being that far north and having our fans there, it’s just a blessing. In the NFL, I really didn’t expect our fans to travel that well … I asked Zo, he ended up telling me (about Dolfans NYC), and I just decided to say something.”

“We feed off of their energy just like they feed off of ours,” Baker continued. “When we – the defense – were up there doing our thing, our fans were yelling, too. I wouldn’t say it felt like a home game, but you could definitely feel our fans.”

For two of the Dolphins’ top offensive stars, the ringing celebrations following Miami’s scoring drives didn’t go unrecognized.

“Yeah, yeah, yeah!” exclaimed wide receiver Albert Wilson when asked if he heard the cheers after his second-quarter touchdown catch gave Miami a 14-0 lead. “After the game, I did a message to everybody who came out. It was great to get so many Dolphins fans on the road. When you get there and you quiet the crowd, and you have your fans going loud, it definitely gives us a spark.”

Running back Kenyan Drake, who found the end zone on a six-yard run in the first quarter, echoed a similar sentiment.

“It was good to score one in front of the many fans we had up there,” he said. “Dolphins fans travel anywhere and everywhere, especially for a divisional-rivalry game such as the Jets. I feel like they make it a key thing to go up there and really try to pack out MetLife Stadium. It was cool just feeling that vibe when I was up there.”

Drake, much like his other teammates, reiterated his appreciation for the support, and hopes to capitalize on the positive momentum as the Dolphins head to Foxboro for a pivotal matchup against the Patriots on Sunday.

What’s his message to Dolfans NYC?

“Let’s keep it going! We’re 3-0, baby. Just enjoy the ride.”

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