The twenty eighth annual NFL Players/United Way Weekend fundraiser took place in Wallingford and Hamden on Friday and Saturday to lift money for United Way of Meriden and Wallingford.
Hosted by Hamden Hall football coach and NFL agent Joe Linta and featuring NFL players Tuzar Skipper (Steelers), Jacobi Francis (Texans), Montrell Washington (Broncos), Julius Chestnut (Titans), Javon Heiligh (Bengals), John Lovett (Dolphins), Joshua Onujiogu (Seahawks) and Jack Stoll (Eagles), a Friday night auction was held at Il Monticello in Wallingford.
Throughout the dinner and auction, Skipper, who has deep Connecticut roots, was honored because the United Way of Meriden and Wallingford 2022 Player of the Yr.
“The work that United Way does day in, and day trip is amazing,” Skipper said. “They support the needs of youngsters and families in our community, and the services they supply are vital to the success of families.”
Skipper attended three Connecticut high schools before moving on to play football at Monroe College and eventually transferring to Toledo.
“I wasn’t born here, but that doesn’t mean you possibly can’t do things for the community,” Skipper said. “I grew up on this community, I went to Hamden middle and Hamden high. Coming back to Hamden, Wallingford, Meriden, it doesn’t matter so long as I’m giving back to the community.”
The Steelers linebacker is aware of adversity. He was born within the Bronx and lived there until he was five, when he moved in along with his grandmother in Connecticut. When he was seven, he was told he had to maneuver in with a foster family.
“I do know what it’s prefer to not have food or stability that a house provides growing up,” Skipper said. “I used to be unsure where my next meal was coming from, or where I used to be going to sleep at night.”
As he entered highschool, his mother passed away. Just before his sixteenth birthday, he left the foster home he had lived with for eight years and went into a gaggle home.
“Those are times that I don’t prefer to take into consideration and are things that no child should ever need to take into consideration,” Skipper said. “These experiences have shaped who I’m today. They’ve made me take into consideration the person who I need to be, to assist kids who’re in the identical situation that I used to be.”
On the age of 18, Skipper was fostered by the Duggan family in Norwich, and transferred to Norwich Free Academy where he would graduate.
He took his football talents to Monroe, a junior college in Latest Rochelle Latest York before transferring to Division I Toledo.
Reflecting on his past just isn’t all the time easy, but it surely has shaped him and inspires his drive to offer back. After the NFL Players/United Way Weekend was cancelled throughout the pandemic, Skipper is glad to be back.
“It means so much because I’m in regards to the talk and the motion as well,” Skipper said. “That is something I genuinely like to do within the offseason. I look ahead to it every 12 months. We missed out the last couple of years due to the pandemic and that was just a little devastating.”
On Saturday, Skipper and the opposite NFL volunteers took the Hamden Hall athletic facility to run a football camp for kids in the realm.
“Don’t hand over, keep fighting,” Skipper said. “Life knocks you down, but it surely isn’t about how repeatedly you get knocked out. It’s about how repeatedly you get back up, and that’s what I’d tell kids.”