Game changer on the field:
Desmond Clark is coming off a terrific 13 year NFL career. Drafted in the 6th round by the Denver Broncos in 1999, Clark spent most of his career making plays for the Chicago Bears. Clark was the rare combination of size, speed and quickness – an absolute nightmare for defenses to account for. He was a key member of the 2006 Bears squad that made the Super Bowl. Clark was also two-time all ACC coming out of Wake Forest.
Game changer off the field:
Desmond Clark founded the 88 Wayz Foundation in April 2008. Committed to helping young people reach their potential, 88 Wayz is based in Clark’s hometown of Lakeland, FL and recently expanded to Chicago, IL. 88 Wayz focuses on developing social competency, literacy and leadership skills.
Clark’s passion for the program is evident:
— Desmond Clark (@dezclark88) February 22, 2012
Need to know:
88 Wayz mentors kids grade 3 – 12. Mentors are selected from a pool of worthy volunteers. When I spoke with him, Clark was adamant that the #1 prerequisite for mentors is they “have a heart for helping kids.” 88 Wayz utilizes the TALKS Mentoring philosophy – a balanced approach to helping put kids in a “mindset for success.”
Track record of success:
88 Wayz currently mentors 300 students in the Polk County School District where Lakeland resides. Clark attributes that success to the community-wide support in Lakeland and the impressive roster of volunteers that serve as mentors. Clark noted the host of good examples he looked up to as a kid and his desire to provide the same kind of inspiration for kids today.
April 3 in Chicago – the Pro Bowler Charity Challenge, benefitting 88 Wayz. Devin Hester, Chris Harris and other Chicago Bears will be on hand, bowling to support the cause. You can find out more about registration and sponsorship on the 88Wayz event page.
The brass ring:
Given the success of 88 Wayz in Lakeland, it only made sense for Clark to expand the program to Chicago. Clark has a goal to build a network of 27 schools and mentoring 2700 students in the Chicago area in the next five years. It’s an ambitious goal but Clark is very confident they’ll hit the mark.
On a side note, it’s really cool for their foundation to have a tangible goal. All programs, no matter how good their intentions, need focus. By setting a bold agenda, Clark has set up his foundation for success.
Kudos to Desmond Clark for an outstanding NFL career and using that platform to make a positive impact on his community.
Featured photo of Desmond Clark courtesy of US Presswire