I’ve covered a few charitable events where Redskins players lead kids on shopping trips through Target — at least two for back-to-school and one other pre-Christmas –so that aspect of today’s event wasn’t all that unusual to see. What was unusual, though, was that the event was organized by Renaldo Wynn — someone who is no longer officially affiliated with the Redskins.
And yet it was identical in every appearance to the events that Lorenzo Alexander puts on through his ACES Foundation, and to Wynn’s similar event last year when he WAS on the roster: a similarly large group of guys, similar turnout of children from local families in need, and — clearly — a similar level of effort put into it by Wynn and his wife LaTanya and their Family of Faith Foundation.
Wynn introduced this tradition to the D.C. area shortly after he first arrived as a Redskin. “I actually remember this event from when Tony Boselli used to do it when I was in Jacksonville,” Wynn told me today. “And it was so awesome, I said, we need to kinda pattern that and bring it here to Virginia and just cater to the people in D.C., Virginia, and Maryland.”
Then Wynn left, spending the 2007 season with the Saints and 2008 with the Giants. But he didn’t take the Adopt A Child For The Holidays event with him.
“I thought about it when I first left the first time and I went to New Orleans and New York,” Wynn said. “I said, should I take it to those places? Those places have people in need. But we prayed about it, and I just felt that no matter what happens, this is always gonna be an event that we’re gonna do here, even if I have to come back, whether I’m playing or not playing. As long as God’s willing, I’m gonna do the event whether I’m playing or not playing, and we’re gonna keep it here.”
So they did. Now, in Wynn’s first season out of the NFL, they’ve brought the event back — and plenty of current Redskins players have joined them.
And it’s not only Wynn’s friends and former teammates who are contributing. “It’s about word of mouth,” Wynn explained. “The other guys here know what we’ve been doing the last few years, and guys talk about it in the locker room. I don’t have to be in the locker room to know that guys are talking about it and saying, ‘Hey, this is an event you wanna go to. It’s awesome, it’s a blessing not only to the kids but even moreso for yourself.’ Players talk, and I just thank those players for continuing to give us a good word.”
Which sounds sort of hokey and unbelievable, but when I bumped into first-year long snapper Nick Sundberg leading a group of kids through the store, his story mirrored Wynn’s description almost exactly. “Hunter Smith introduced me to Renaldo at the game and was talking about this event a little bit,” Sundberg explained. “I heard a little bit about what was going on, with the kids and everything, and thought it was just an awesome, awesome idea. So I asked, hey, you mind if I join you, and it worked out really well and I’m happy to be here.”
So that’s one way the charitable impulse spreads through an NFL team: one guy throws an event and another guy shows up to help. But it’s also clear that Lorenzo Alexander takes kids on school supply trips through Target in a way that’s modeled after what he saw at Wynn’s holiday events — which means that this event has come from Tony Boselli, to Wynn, and now to Alexander, like some kind of bizarre charitable phone tree.
“It’s just like passing the torch, man,” Wynn said. “Before Boselli, there was Junior Seau. And I’m sure there was somebody before him. So we’re just continuing that pattern, man.”
Still, Wynn talks about Alexander with a clear and understandable sense of pride. “You know, a lot of guys say they wanna do stuff, but because of busyness they never get around to it,” Wynn said. “And I understand that. But Lorenzo, he said, I wanna do this, I wanna bring it back to where I’m from as well, and you can see what he’s already done. That’s what it’s all about: giving back, and giving someone else a rope to help them just like someone helped me.”
Tags: Lorenzo Alexander, nick sundberg, Renaldo Wynn
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