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Chris Perkins: A long overdue 'thank you' to the Dolphins for being good neighbors

Chris Perkins, South Florida Sun Sentinel on

Published in Football

I always get a thrill out of seeing the Miami Dolphins in the community, being good neighbors.

OK, maybe I’m a bit of a softie.

But I like seeing the Dolphins help South Floridians.

And I like seeing people’s faces light up when they see these guys out of uniform and in-person.

The Dolphins do good work for our South Florida community.

In the last 52 weeks or so the Dolphins and their players have hosted more than 70 charity/community events.

I’m long overdue in recognizing the Dolphins in this regard, so I want to acknowledge their good work.

One recent example was at the Big Brothers/Big Sisters of Miami Graduation last week at Florida Memorial University.

Dolphins wide receiver Jaylen Waddle was the guest of honor.

He didn’t disappoint.

Whether it was judging “The Waddle” contest (his touchdown celebration actually doesn’t have an official name) or offering advice to the high school graduates in the Big Brothers/Big Sisters program, Waddle made a difference.

For players, it’s real and surreal at the same time.

“It’s kind of an influence you don’t really know you have because you’re never really around kids,” Waddle said.

“It’s just something I can’t even explain.”

The mission of Big Brothers/Big Sisters Miami, according to Gale Nelson, president & CEO, is to ignite the power and promise of youth.

That’s where Waddle came into play for the graduates.

“The message is,” Nelson began, “you can be anything you want to be.

“You might not be in the end zone doing ‘The Waddle,’ but you’re going to cross that stage, you’re going to college, and you can waddle your way to a nice GPA, you can waddle your way to college graduation, and just being successful in life. And that’s why we’re excited to team up with Jaylen, now and in the future.”

Understand something. This column isn’t an effort to get in good graces with the Dolphins.

Rather, this is a natural break in the NFL calendar that provides an opportunity to say something that I should have said previously.

It’s a time that allows me to say “Thank you” to the Dolphins for being good neighbors in our South Florida neighborhood, and highlight some of the things they do for our community.

Their outreach has been impressive.

They’ve been to elementary schools, middle schools, high schools, community centers, hospitals and children’s hospitals.

 

They’ve partnered with furniture stores, law firms, TV stations, school districts, Special Olympics and the military.

They even have the Miami Dolphins Community Restaurant Program that allows restaurants in the tri-county area (Broward, Palm Beach and Miami-Dade) to introduce their fare to a variety of new clients.

The charity/community events are always a good time that makes you feel good about the Dolphins.

The Dolphins’ link to the community goes back decades, of course.

Ex-coach Jimmy Johnson is a fairly recent link. He started the Fins Weekend fishing tournament and returned for the 25th anniversary a couple of weeks ago.

The late Jason Jenkins, the Dolphins’ celebrated media relations and community services leader, is a strong link.

So is safety Shawn Wooden. Wooden, the 1996 sixth-round pick from Notre Dame, was at the Fishing Weekend event.

Wooden played nine seasons, eight for the Dolphins and one for Chicago (2000), and retired in 2004. But he still goes overseas to visit military members on behalf of the Dolphins and NFL.

“I always tell them that the reason why I’m able to play the game we play, and enjoy the liberties I have is because you and your families sacrificed,” he said. “It’s just a way to give back.”

I’ve always considered the Dolphins to be good neighbors to the South Florida community.

I’ve seen it first-hand at charity and community events ranging from Habitat for Humanity to Build-A-Bear to the Dolphins Cancer Challenge to Christmas toy drives and giveaways.

I’ve attended a shopping spree hosted by Jason Taylor, the Thanksgiving Turkey Giveaway, golf tournaments, a luau, all kinds of things, including the ALS Ice Bucket Challenge.

The current Dolphins use their platform for causes ranging from adoption and foster families to using art as a way to raise money for cancer research.

I like seeing the players as human beings.

Seeing players and team officials at charity and community events reminds me there’s a lot more to this Miami Dolphins organization than just the on-field stuff.

I’ve seen it in people’s eyes.

I’ve seen it in the players’ eyes.

Sometimes we don’t give flowers until some unforeseen event forces such acknowledgment.

I fall into that category way too often.

We’ll be back to football soon enough.

Right now, I’d like to publicly recognize the Dolphins for being good neighbors.

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©2024 South Florida Sun Sentinel. Visit at sun-sentinel.com. Distributed by Tribune Content Agency, LLC.

 

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