By Lisa Zimmerman, Player Engagement Insider
Former NFL quarterback Brady Quinn (2007 – 2013) comes from a long line of family members who served in the military, including his father, Ty, a former Marine and Vietnam War veteran, and both of his grandfathers who are World War II veterans. Therefore, his involvement in causes that serve the military was a natural fit and in 2010 he launched the 3rd and Goal Foundation.
The foundation helps returning soldiers from Iraq and Afghanistan, as well as aging veterans of previous wars, who have altered needs due to injuries they sustained during their active duty. Homes are retrofitted to accommodate those needs so that the soldiers and their families can remain in the homes where they have lived, rather than moving, which means less disruption to their lives overall. Bathroom renovations, kitchen renovations, the addition of ramps are all among the work the foundation has performed. It also assists with other costs families may have difficulty handling when a veteran returns home.
When Quinn started formulating his plan, his first call was to his father.
“I called my dad and said, ‘How can we help?” Quinn recalled. “We put our heads together and decided we’d make homes accessible for them. New homes sound great, but then you might be displacing them. For the people we work with they’ve been happy with the remodeling.”
3rd and Goal works with other veteran-focused organizations who have assisted them in finding appropriate recipients. The foundation is funded through donations and by Quinn and his wife, Alicia. The foundation has no paid employees, all money raised goes directly to the assistance provided to the veterans. Everyone involved volunteers their time and effort and it is Quinn and Alicia who organize and do much of the legwork and logistics themselves.
Quinn quickly realized just how important their work is. Things that might not be top-of-mind are real issues for those who are disabled. Quinn cited one of their first recipients, former Army Sgt. Shane Parsons an Iraq war veteran who lost both legs in combat and, like Quinn, is an Ohio native.
“When we first did Shane Parsons’ ramps in his house, he said, ‘One of my greatest fears was if there was a fire, I would have to wheel myself to the door, throw myself off and crawl out.’ I started realizing how real and serious a situation it was. You have individuals who can’t move around. They’re still adjusting to prosthetics, a wheel chair, a cane, whatever it is. But you think about a situation and you think holy crap. The gesture makes his quality of life better and it can save a life too.”
The foundation also assists military families who may be struggling, including those faced with homelessness, as well as providing food at the holidays and offering help with personal finance plans.
Quinn, a Notre Dame alumnus who was drafted by the Cleveland Browns in the first round of the 2007 NFL Draft, is grateful for the network of graduates involved with the university, many of who have stepped in and provided help in a variety of ways, including helping the foundation identify veterans to reach out to.
“It all stems from the Notre Dame network,” Quinn said. “There are Notre Dame clubs all over the country. The ability to utilize this Notre Dame network has been great. People are looking for ways to give back in the community.”
Balancing all his responsibilities has become a bit of a juggling act, but it is one Quinn embraces. He is currently building a broadcasting career, working with FOX Sports as a college football and NFL analyst. In addition, he and Alicia recently welcomed their first child, a daughter named Sloan.
They are looking to expand the work of the foundation, but want to ensure it is done correctly to maintain its strength and impact.
“We’re trying to navigate the future,” Quinn said. “That’s the one hurdle. But I have this platform and we have the ability to do something.”
Lisa Zimmerman is a long-time NFL writer and reporter. She was the Jets correspondent for CBSSports.com, SportsNet New York’s TheJetsBlog.com and Sirius NFL Radio. She has also written for NFL.com.