Mass Mutual and NewsOne join together to present 28 dynamic people that make up the diverse tapestry of Black History. For the entire month of February, Black History Month, we will feature one Person of the Day and highlight their lives and achievements.
Former pro-football player Warrick Dunn (pictured far right) brought excitement to the NFL as a running back for the Tampa Bay Buccaneers and the Atlanta Falcons. Although considered undersized for his position, Dunn was selected for three Pro Bowls and was the AP Offensive Rookie of the Year in 1997 before retiring in 2008. However, Dunn’s current efforts as a humanitarian and philanthropist are worthy of accolades as well.
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Dunn runs the Warrick Dunn Charities, which sprung from his earlier charity, Home for the Holidays (HFTH). The inspiration for HFTH is a bit of a sad tale. Dunn created the charity to honor the life of his late-mother, Betty Smothers, who was a Baton Rogue, La., police officer working off-duty as a security escort when three robbers ambushed and killed her in 1993 just two days after her son’s 18th birthday.
Despite the loss and the hardship of becoming the head of his family, Dunn went on to star at Florida State University, leaving the school with a degree and onward to the NFL. He created HFTH in his rookie season, which provides housing assistance and various related programs in tandem with Habitat for Humanity for struggling single Mothers in his home town of Baton Rouge.
To date, 92 percent of HFTH program recipients remain homeowners today.
Continuing to work in service and furthering honoring the memory of his mother, Dunn launched Betty’s Hope in 2012. The program helps children who have lost a parent deal with the grief and depression similar to what Dunn grappled with as a teenager when he and his five siblings lost their mother to violent crime. Betty’s Hope services are free of charge and include counseling, parent/caregiver support and training among other offerings.
Dunn published an autobiography, “Running for My Life,” in 2008. The book detailed the struggles he faced in losing his mother at a young age, and how he combated depression.
Dunn also recently completed his graduate studies, obtaining his MBA from Emory University last year.
Learn more about Warrick Dunn and his charity work here.
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