BATTLE CREEK, Mich. — Jonathan Matthews loves his kids. He works with about 40 underprivileged kids and it’s his goal he said to show them that life is bigger than their surroundings.
“With the youth groups that we have, what happens when they go home?” said Matthews who works with Cool People Community Savers organization, a youth mentorship group. “A big issue with us is trying to get them out of the element as much as we can to see that this is not normal.”
Some of his biggest worries he said is if they’re eating at home and if they’re making it to school. With parents permission, he goes into the homes and schools and checks in on them, trying trying to be a positive role model in their lives. And when he spends time with them he passes along his love of football, showing them how to play.
“I got a handful of youth down here that I'm trying to get them to the Big House,” said Matthews during an interview at his home. “They love Michigan and the best they can do is watch it on TV.”
However over the summer in July, many of the kids on his grassroots team met University of Michigan Running Back Chris Evans. He said the kids loved it.
“They were real excited,” said Evans on a phone interview with FOX 17. “When I brought out the helmets out, we were signing it for them, and they like, ‘Oh snap, these is hard.’ And they was taking pictures.”
The kids that play football with Matthews don’t have proper helmets he said. When Matthews and Evans met during a spring game, Matthews told him about his vision of running a proper youth football league one day. Evans was immediately on board.
“Later that night he end up shooting me an inbox like you know like ‘What's going on with the kids?'" said Matthews recalling the email. “We just chopped it up from there.”
Evans came down to meet the kids in July and seeing their lack of resources he called around to a few leagues and sponsors to see if they could donate new helmets, cleats and other equipment. Matthews said he's grateful. There's no words to express what Evans has meant to him and the team.
“It’s no way I can repay him for what he’s done,” said Matthews wearing a Michigan hoodie. “He’s driving all the way down here, taking his time and it’s in the middle of the season."