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By On Deck contributors — Shamika Anderson, Desjanay Banks-Hill, and Paul Tafoya

Just like Denver Broncos starting safety T.J Ward craves a Super Bowl win, he has a strong desire to help those in his community too.

Ward was born in San Francisco, entered the NFL in Cleveland when he was drafted by the Browns, and now wears the orange and blue in Denver. That’s why Ward’s foundation, the T.J. Ward Foundation, has roots in all three cities.

The T.J. Ward Foundation aims to enhance the lives of youth by creating stepping stones for future generations. The foundation supports programs that help empower young people in underprivileged communities.

“I see my foundation expanding in the future,” Ward said. “I want to raise a lot of money so I can help support other foundations.”

Ward believes that just as much as his foundation helps students, students help his cause too.

“I feel that the sky is the limit as long as we have kids like you who are willing to work hard and who are dedicated to their craft,” Ward said. “If we can find more kids like you who are motivated, I think the foundation will be a success.”

Ward wants to help young people because when he was young, he encountered difficulties, and moved through them.

(Photo: @BroncosOffField)

(Photo: @BroncosOffField)

Even though Ward is a two-time Pro Bowl safety and an established contributor on and off the field in the NFL, he has seen his fair share of struggle too. He lost a very close high school friend in a tragic shooting. Ward and his friend, T.K., were supposed to play football together at Oregon, but T.K. was killed just before he was supposed to leave for the school’s fall training camp.

“You will face struggles no matter who you are or what you’re doing,” Ward said. “You can be the richest man in the world, but even he has problems and issues to deal with. As tough as it is in the moment, struggle is what helps you grow in the end.”

With these powerful words, and Ward’s belief in us, our Boys & Girls Club of Metro Denver teens and future leaders are strongly motivated to strive for greatness, in order to leave behind a positive footprint in our community.

Ward and his foundation help remind us what we are truly capable of even through the hardest times in life. With Ward’s insight, we recognize that there’s always a light at the end of the darkest tunnel as long as we keep moving forward with good intentions.

T.J., we appreciate you coming in and being honest with us. We learned a lot about you, as well as ourselves, and what it takes to be a champion in the community.

Purpose2Pay partnered with the T.J. Ward Foundation to give teens from the Boys & Girls Club of metro Denver the opportunity to take part in a six-week sports journalism class, called On Deck, where they learned proper interview techniques and writing skills.