Los Angeles's Johnny Hekker Named Week 14 NFLPA Community MVP
Rams punter organized aid for wildfire victims, including a supply delivery and T-shirt drive to raise funds
WASHINGTON, D.C. – Johnny Hekker has been named Week 14 NFLPA Community MVP for organizing multiple grassroots efforts to help victims of the ongoing Los Angeles wildfires.
“I’m honored to be recognized by the NFLPA community, which is a community full of people that are doing great things to make a positive impact on their communities,” Hekker said. “My faith and background have helped me to truly appreciate the platform that football provides because it allows me to be a part of something bigger.”
When the Los Angeles Rams punter drove home one day earlier this month, he could see the flames and smoke from the Thomas fire roaring through the woods and homes of Ventura County. The scene moved Hekker to take immediate action, as he and his wife Makayla, who is seven months pregnant, jumped in their truck and drove to a local Target. There, they grabbed all the diapers, sweatpants, sweatshirts and sports equipment that would fit into their vehicle and then headed to a shelter for wildfire victims at the Ventura County Fairgrounds.
The Hekkers spent 45 minutes unloading the supplies before shaking hands and offering encouragement to those who had been displaced from their homes as well as the volunteers.
“The Los Angeles wildfires were happening in my back yard,” the All-Pro punter said, “so taking action was a simple way to extend a helping hand to my neighbors in need.”
But Hekker didn’t stop there. In the following days, he tweeted out information to his nearly 41,000 followers about collection sites where local residents could drop off shoes, socks and other supplies to those in need.
He also approached the Rams staff about how the team could get involved. A partnership with American Red Cross was soon formed and several Rams players followed Hekker’s lead by donating food and daily essentials.
With the Thomas fire now ranking among the largest in California history, Hekker decided to launch a T-shirt campaign on Thursday with the United Way of Los Angeles. One hundred percent of the proceeds from the specially designed T-shirts, which read “Together LA United” on the front and “LA Fire Relief” on the back, will benefit United Way’s Southern California Wildfire Relief Fund.
In honor of Hekker being named this week’s Community MVP, the NFLPA will make a $10,000 contribution to his foundation or charity of choice along with an in-kind donation to him on behalf of our supporting partner Delta Private Jets. Hekker, along with the other 2017 Community MVPs, will also become eligible for this year’s Byron Whizzer White Award, which is the highest honor that the NFLPA can bestow upon a player.
The NFLPA Community MVP program recognizes NFL players who are making a positive impact in their local communities. Each week during the regular season, the NFLPA will celebrate one NFL player* who has demonstrated a commitment to giving back to his community. Please visit our website to read more about the program as well as the current and past winners.
*To be eligible for the Community MVP award, a player must be a dues-paying member of the NFLPA and either on a current NFL roster or actively seeking employment as a free agent.
2017 COMMUNITY MVPs
- Week 0: J.J. Watt (Houston Texans)
- Week 1: Colin Kaepernick
- Week 2: Chris Long (Philadelphia Eagles)
- Week 3: Carson Wentz (Philadelphia Eagles)
- Week 4: Max Garcia (Denver Broncos)
- Week 5: Ha Ha Clinton-Dix (Green Bay Packers)
- Week 6: Vic Beasley Jr. (Atlanta Falcons)
- Week 7: Travis Frederick (Dallas Cowboys)
- Week 8: Andy Dalton (Cincinnati Bengals)
- Week 9: Carlos Dunlap (Cincinnati Bengals)
- Week 10: Josh Norman (Washington Redskins)
- Week 11: Vinny Curry (Philadelphia Eagles)
- Week 12: Emmanuel Sanders (Denver Broncos)
- Week 13: David Johnson (Arizona Cardinals)
About the NFL Players Association:
The National Football League Players Association is the union for professional football players in the National Football League. Established in 1956, the NFLPA has a long history of assuring proper recognition and representation of players’ interests. The NFLPA has shown that it will do whatever is necessary to assure that the rights of players are protected—including ceasing to be a union, if necessary, as it did in 1989. In 1993, the NFLPA again was officially recognized as the union representing the players, and negotiated a landmark Collective Bargaining Agreement with the NFL. The current CBA will govern the sport through 2020. Learn more at www.nflpa.com.