The Donnie Edwards-Best Defense Foundation will receive an $8,000 grant to help children who face obstacles on a daily basis and to provide assistance and support to the Hispanic community, NFL Charities announced today.
Although the Donnie Edwards-Best Defense Foundation was not established until April 2000, the San Diego Chargers linebacker has had a longstanding commitment to the community in both Kansas City and California. Edwards played with the Kansas City Chiefs from 1996 until this year, when he signed with the Chargers.
He has worked with groups such as the Multiple Sclerosis Society, Boy Scouts, Kansas City Hispanic Chamber of Commerce and the U.S. Department of Transportation.
“I started my foundation after former Chiefs linebacker Derrick Thomas passed away,” says Edwards. “If there is one thing that remains when you leave this earth, it is what you did to make a difference. During Derrick’s funeral, I heard about is what he had done in his lifetime, and I started thinking about what people will say about me when I’m gone. I had been helping out with multiple sclerosis and various other things, but only after Derrick’s funeral did I put all my efforts under one umbrella.”
The Best Defense Foundation provides an umbrella organization that allows Edwards to support a variety of causes that are important to him. Recently, he donated $10,000 to the Boy Scouts of America in the San Diego area.
“Boy Scouts helped me have an outlet when growing up in the inner city with gangs and violence,” says Edwards. “It gave me a chance to meet new people, make friends, go camping and be around positive male role models.”
Edwards strives to assist children who are attempting to overcome the same obstacles that he faced growing up as a young man of mixed ethnic background coming from a single-parent family, living in an economically-depressed area in the outskirts of San Diego. Edwards is Mexican, Indian, and African-American.
“I am very excited to have been awarded this grant,” he says. “It will go directly back into the community and hopefully a kid along the way will benefit like I benefited.”
The Foundation has also teamed up with Chiefs tight end Tony Gonzalez and his foundation for various events, including “Shop with a Jock” at Christmas time. Edwards also arranged for players from around the league to be “Father’s For a day” by taking kids from San Diego’s National City Boys & Girls Club who grew up without a father to Sea World for the day.
Recently, Edwards funded the construction of a new weight room for his alma matter, Chula Vista High School. He wanted to give back to the community that helped make him.
Edwards started playing football when he was eight-years old. “I wanted to be a Charger,” he says. “My Pop Warner coach told me I had a chance to go to college on a scholarship if I did well on the football field and really applied myself in the classroom. That got me motivated.”
Edwards has had a successful season in his first year with the Chargers, picking off five interceptions, and has contributed enormously to his team’s winning record.
“The goal right now is to win our final games and set ourselves up for the playoffs,” he says.