For years, professional athletes have made grand donations and sponsored massive community service events, using their wealth and likeness to bolster their efforts. Without tremendous wealth or notoriety, athletes at Howard University have done what they can to make a difference as well.
During the time leading up to the Thanksgiving holiday, many people make plans to gather with family and friends to enjoy large feasts, while others continue to struggle to feed themselves and their families even on “Turkey Day.” Two friends, business partners and teammates on Howard University’s track and field team took it upon themselves to make sure that, even if only for a day, some of the DMV’s less fortunate wouldn’t have to struggle.
Senior hurdler Jermanie Byrd and senior thrower Nnamdi Olebara held a food distribution event in Washington D.C. just before Thanksgiving to provide some relief to an underserved community. The self-titled “Byrd and Nam” duo was able to distribute 193 meals during the event.
“This year has been a blessing to us in many ways. When thinking about how much we have been blessed, we had no doubts about giving back to help members of the community in which we are surrounded by. The Thanksgiving holiday is spent with loved ones, so we decided to give back in a way that would directly impact the lives of those who struggle to find where their next meal is coming from,” Byrd told Hilltop.
Byrd and Olebara’s efforts came just after the Howard University men’s basketball team traveled to the Virgin Islands and partook in the Feeding the Caribbean Community event ahead of their tournament. During this event, the Bison worked as a unit to help feed the St. Thomas community. “Being able to experience this and have this milestone even without it being basketball related is just exceptional. And so to be honest, I’m just happy to be here,” sophomore guard Bryce Harris told Hilltop during the Virgin Islands trip.
Efforts by athletes, such as the recent ones by Howard University student-athletes to help others, often go overlooked despite the volunteers’ incredibly busy and draining workload. These positive deeds are not lauded or publicized in the same manner as efforts from people in other professions. It has become more of an expected practice that wealthy athletic organizations serve the community in some fashion. Athletes in today’s climate are expected to be active politically, act as role models to their community and actively participate in their communities, all while maintaining a near superhuman output in their respective sports. Byrd spoke on the belief that athletes have a greater responsibility to give back.
“(Nnamdi and I) do not believe it is an obligation for athletes to give back to their communities, but it is a choice. Not all athletes give back to their communities, but for athletes who make the choice, it shows how much they cherish and respect the communities in which they are surrounded by. We believe that giving back is expected from all professions whether it is an influencer, athlete, rapper or even an entrepreneur. What we all must remember is that when you give back, it is to impact the lives of others and not to live up to expectations or impress others.”
In his closing statements with Hilltop, Byrd highlighted what he and Nnamdi took away from the experience. “The biggest takeaway of our food distribution was the individual conversations we held with members of our community. Hearing the stories of each person really humbled us in this experience and gave us inspiration to continue to give back.”
Relating to upcoming events from Byrd and Nam, Byrd asserted, “We will definitely be doing more events for our community and to stay updated on our future events, be sure to follow us on instagram @bn.enterprise.”
Copy edited by Jadyn Barnett