Ryan Mathews Named NFLPA Community MVP


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Rob Troiano, NFLPA Communications




Editor’s Note: The NFLPA Community MVP recognizes players who are making a positive impact in their local communities. Each week, the NFLPA will celebrate one player who recently demonstrated his commitment to giving back to his community, and will make a donation to the player’s foundation in support. This week’s #CommunityMVP is Ryan Mathews, whose Trish and Ryan Mathews Door of Hope Chest Foundation helps homeless mothers and children get back on their feet. This week, the foundation hosted its Second Annual Ryan Mathews Golf Tournament.

Quite possibly the most important moment of Ryan Mathews’ life occurred following a six-touchdown, 235-yard performance his junior year of high school. He had been actively recruited by colleges, but his grades were dropping dangerously low, and young Mathews was at risk of losing his eligibility and a chance at a scholarship. If not for one powerful role model, he might have continued down that path of unrealized potential. Fortunately, a turnaround occurred, and it was so powerful it eventually led Mathews to the NFL as the San Diego Chargers’ first-round draft pick.

Ryan was born to Tricia Mathews when she was just 16 years old. Tricia’s own mother battled drug addiction, and after a few short stays with relatives, she and Ryan were forced to live out of her car for months at a time. The two became regulars at a local soup kitchen, and Tricia bathed and washed Ryan’s clothes daily at a local public park.

The Mathews eventually found a home with Tricia’s grandmother, and Tricia often worked three jobs to provide for her son. By the time Ryan reached high school, it was clear he had a future in football, and Tricia had landed a steady and well-paying job. When Ryan started to slip, it was Tricia who set him straight.

She sat him down and reminded him of the path they had taken together, and of all she had sacrificed in hopes that he would not have to do the same. The young running back refused to disappoint her and rededicated himself to his academics, remaining eligible to accept a scholarship at Fresno State.

The difficult times provided the basis for his Door of Hope Chest program and served as the catalyst for last Tuesday’s Second Annual Ryan Mathews Charity Golf Tournament.

Mathews and his mother formed the Trish and Ryan Mathews Door of Hope Chest (DOHC) in partnership with the Salvation Army’s The Door of Hope program. It is a unique partnership, and the two programs complement each other exceptionally well

“My mom is definitely my inspiration for creating the Trish and Ryan Mathews DOHC. She came to me with the idea after taking a tour of the Door of Hope at the Salvation Army,” Mathews told NFLPA.com. “She was very convincing that we needed to help these families, and after hearing her story I agreed.”

The Salvation Army Door of Hope is a one-year transitional living center for homeless mothers and their children. The mothers must get a job, save about 80% of their income, and in return are given the tools they need to prosper after their stay ends. When they graduate from the program, the mothers and their children move into an apartment.

Mathews’ foundation steps in to help complete this transition. The Door of Hope Chest helps the mothers turn their new houses into a place they can call home. “There are a lot of things you need when you get out, and Trish and Ryan saw that need and decided that they would step up and partner with the Salvation Army to help these moms,” said Suzy Woodruff Lacy of the Salvation Army. “About 6 weeks before they graduate, they get to go through the list and pick the things that they most need, and they get to go shopping so that when they move into their new homes they’ll have all those things.”

“The DOHC has helped many families have the necessities they need to make their house a home,” Mathews said. “We want to make sure the kids have the everyday things we take for granted like towels, plates, bedding etc.”

It is just the kind of fresh start that Ryan benefitted from thanks to the resilience of his mother.

“She’s the main symbol for the organization,” Mathews told ESPN in a recent interview. “She’s worked hard all of her life to get to where she’s at. And she helped to create a lot of beneficial things for me.”

The Kaiser Permanente Second Annual Ryan Mathews Charity Golf Tournament was held October 28 and brought a number of Chargers players and the San Diego community together to raise funds for the Door of Hope Chest. Participants were treated to a day of golf at the beautiful Rancho Bernardo Inn Golf Course before the evening’s events. For those who preferred to simply wine and dine, there was a separate package for the dinner, award ceremony and silent auction portion.

“The Golf Tournament was successful,” Mathews said. “I would like for it to grow each year so we can continue to help the kids in the DOHC even more.” In addition to hosting the annual golf tournament, Mathews serves as a spokesperson for the Chargers-Kaiser Permanente Bolts to the Q, a 5k run event whose proceeds go towards the Door of Hope Chest.

“We are so thrilled to be able to partner with Kaiser on the Bolt to the Q 5k and Golf Tournament each year,” Mathews said

Mathews clearly feels strongly about ensuring his foundation is making a big impact, and remains active with the Door of Hope Chest outside of the official events. He and his mother often join the families on their shopping trip to purchase the items they have picked out.

“It’s humbling, being able to give back.” Mathews told ESPN. “There’s a lot of people that are in need. And I’m going to do my part, whether it’s going to an event like this and shaking some hands, taking a picture or signing an autograph or whatnot. It’s something.”

Trish and Ryan’s Door of Hope Chest program is having the desired tangible change on the community – Mathews’ goal of improving the lives of the mothers and opening brand new opportunities for their children is a reality.

For more information and to donate, visit the Trish and Ryan’s Door of Hope Chest page at http://www.sandiego.salvationarmy.org/sierra_del_mar/doh_chest.

For more great photos from the event, visit http://www.ryanmathewsgolftournament.org/

-- Rob Troiano
NFLPA Communications
Photos provided by the Ryan Mathews Golf Tournament