By: Courtney Dabney
Whether it’s a quarterback keeper, a pick six or a Hail Mary pass, any touchdown TCU scores this season means more than just points – it also means funding for the Boys & Girls Clubs of Greater Fort Worth.
And it’s all thanks to a TCU alumni-turned-NFL-star, former running back LaDainian Tomlinson. After a storied career at TCU, where he broke the FBS single-game rushing record in 1999 (Wisconsin’s Melvin Gordon and Oklahoma’s Samaje Perine eventually surpassed Tomlinson in 2014), followed by an equally stellar career with the San Diego Chargers, Tomlinson now splits time as an NFL Network analyst and chairman of Tomlinson’s Touching Lives Foundation.
This year, the foundation is teaming up with the Boys & Girls Clubs of Greater Fort Worth for LT Purple Zone, a campaign that combines Horned Frog football with helping children. Donors can make a pledge by texting “FWKIDS” to 41444 or by pledging through the LT Purple Zone website, ltpurplezone.com. Every time TCU scores a touchdown, the donor’s pledge goes toward the Boys & Girls Clubs. So, if a donor pledges $1 a touchdown and the Frogs score 60 touchdowns in the season, the donor then donates a total of $60.
Anyone who donates also has the opportunity to win a football signed by Tomlinson himself.
Gregory Gibbs, chief development officer at the Boys & Girls Clubs of Greater Fort Worth, said the campaign has gone well so far, bringing in new donors and helping the Boys & Girls Clubs reach “a part of a community that we haven’t been a part of.”
“People who follow football, but they don’t follow philanthropic organizations, this would get them involved in both of them,” he said.
He said LT Purple Zone ends when the regular season ends in December, but depending on the Horned Frogs’ postseason fate, the Boys & Girls Clubs may consider extending the length of the campaign.
The money raised will go toward the Boys & Girls Clubs’ general operating fund, which pays for supplies, tutors and meals among other services.
“It goes specifically to continue to provide more services to the kids,” Gibbs said. “That’s the biggest thing, keeping the lights on and having a safe place for the kids to show up every day after school.”
One focus for the Fort Worth Boys & Girls Clubs has been to increase teen enrollment and place more teens in pre-college programs. Gibbs said nearly 99 percent of teens involved in Boys & Girls Clubs’ pre-college programs get accepted into college. The organization currently serves about 11,000 children, with more than 50 percent being teens.
Funding initiatives like LT Purple Zone help the Boys & Girls Clubs fulfill its mission, Gibbs said. He said his organization and Tomlinson’s foundation plan to hold a closing event for the campaign in February, then start making plans to do it all again next year.
Gibbs said the Boys & Girls Clubs organization has enjoyed working with Tomlinson.
“He’s really dedicated to helping us raise these funds for Fort Worth kids,” Gibbs said.
By: Courtney Dabney