INDIANAPOLIS — Four years into his professional career and Colts linebacker Darius Leonard is still giving back to Indianapolis.
“Seeing the street life, knowing what those kids go through, going back and seeing those same streets,” said Leonard. “I think there’s not enough NFL guys who go back to their hometowns and tell these kids there’s a way out.”
Leonard surprised kids at the Wheeler-Dowe Boys and Girls Club on Tuesday to celebrate their academic achievements with free Maniac Foundation t-shirts, Colts pennants and sweatbands. Two star students were each gifted a Leonard jersey and signed football.
Lynneah Redmon, unit manager for the Boys and Girls Club, says the Maniac Foundation reached out to her to set up the surprise. None of the children had any idea a local football star was going to stop by after school.
“For me and the kids it means something great,” said Redmon. “I serve a whole lot of kids in this community at a great capacity and they deserve the best. If I got people willing to come in and sow into their lives and show up, that means a lot to us.”
The Boys and Girls Club’s current motto is ‘Whatever It Takes,’ which is a saying Leonard has also lived by his whole life. He remembered growing up in South Carolina and meeting Colts safety Antoine Bethea.
Bethea was also from the area and came back for a football camp to teach kids the game and tell them what it took to make it in the NFL.
“It always stuck with me and I always told myself if I could be a voice for these kids I would,” said Leonard. “One thing about giving back is the smile on these kids’ faces. It never gets old.”
The Maniac Foundation will host its first in-person event, An Evening with Darius Leonard, in November. The proceeds will benefit local education, wellness, and families all over the Indianapolis area.