Carolina Panthers star defensive end Julius Peppers had been on an eight-month hiatus from the media until Friday, September 21st when he announced the launch of the Julius Peppers Hurricane Relief Fund at the Foundation For The Carolinas. The nine-time Pro Bowler established the fund to aid in the rebuilding process in the aftermath of Hurricane Florence, a massive storm that has claimed 43 lives, caused an estimated $50 billion in tentative damage estimates and is unfortunately still tormenting the coastal Carolinas.
Peppers, an Eastern Carolina native who also played football and basketball at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, saw photos and videos of the hurricane’s damage and sprung to action. Although his friends and family in Bailey, N.C. were able to escape the storm, seeing its effects on the surrounding areas of his home inspired Peppers to use his platform to help.
Peppers donated $100,000 to kick off the fund and called on the community, other NFL players and especially his teammates to get involved as well. He believes that the Carolina Panthers’ fans have given so much to the team through their loyalty, so it was time that the players return the favor and support them during this difficult time. Panthers linebacker Shaq Thompson and tight end Chris Manhertz have both shown their prompt support by pledging so far.
Though a future Hall of Famer who has accomplished so much on the field, Peppers is not one for the spotlight. Team officials said that his stance with the media is that he will talk only when he felt like he had something to say. As a man of few words, his break in silence emphasized the urgency of the hurricane’s relief efforts and his personal duty to use his platform as a professional athlete for social good. Peppers is an inspiration and example for other athletes to do more than just play their respective sports and be the change that their communities need.