The St. Louis Rams Community Player of the Week presented by Ameren Missouri is linebacker
Since being selected by the Rams in the second round of the 2009 NFL Draft, Laurinaitis has made his presence felt on defense, leading the team in tackles each of the past three seasons. So it comes as no secret that he is the leader of the defense and in the locker room. But he displays the same positive qualities in the community, taking an active role in the betterment of St. Louis and the surrounding areas.
Few players can match Laurinaitis’ efforts off the field when it comes to charitable work. As a result, he was the Rams’ nomination for the prestigious Walter Payton Man of the Year Award last season. The NFL presents the award annually to honor one NFL player’s volunteer and charitable work in addition to his excellence on the field. While the national award ultimately went to Baltimore’s Matt Birk, Laurinaitis’ nomination was a testament to the respect the Rams’ organization and specifically the community outreach team have for him and his many contributions to the St. Louis region.
Last week, Laurinaitis hosted the Make-A-Wish Celebrity Server Dinner-Night of Wishes for the third consecutive year. He and his teammates worked for “tips” throughout the night by taking time to pose for photos and sign autographs for event attendees. The event also featured a live and silent auction. Through the tip donations and respective auctions, Laurinaitis and the Rams helped Make-A-Wish raise over $225,000. That total is enough to grant the wishes for more than 45 kids with life-threatening medical conditions.
Laurinaitis is no stranger to Make-A-Wish. He first got involved with the organization during his time at Ohio State. One kid wished to meet Laurinaitis and some of his Buckeyes teammates. From there, Laurinaitis was hooked. He has worked with Make-A-Wish throughout his time in St. Louis, taking time each year to recruit teammates and host the celebrity server night.
In addition to his prominent role with Make-A-Wish, Laurinaitis takes part in a variety of other community programs. He is one of 30 members of the Rams organization taking part in the team’s ticket donation program. For each home game during the season, Laurinaitis donates 20 tickets to Urban K-Life, an organization dedicated to bringing lasting hope to urban teens one relationship at a time through outreach, fellowship, mentoring and discipleship.
James is also active in a variety of other community outreach efforts including the Rams’ Play 60 effort, which is aimed at encouraging kids to be physically active for 60 minutes a day. For the past several years, James has visited local schools and hosted an “Ultimate Physical Education Class” as part of the NFL’s Back to Football initiative.
One of the Rams most consistent contributors off the field, James also participates in the Salvation Army’s Tree of Lights campaign and the Motion for Kids/SJ39 holiday party at the Edward Jones Dome for 3,000 foster children. He has helped distribute food to families in need at events including the Urban League Thanksgiving Project and Feed the Children. James has also delivered “Baskets of Hope” to sick children at local hospitals and participated in tornado relief efforts in the St. Louis area as well as Joplin, Missouri and Harrisburg, Illinois. Always willing to lend a hand, James participates in the team’s annual playground build, KidSmart’s Celebrity Bee, the March of Dimes Golf Challenge and Coach Jeff Fisher’s Celebrity Softball Game benefiting charity.
“You couldn’t ask for a better ambassador for the St. Louis Rams organization than James,” said Molly Higgins, vice president of corporate communications/civic affairs, St. Louis Rams. “His charitable passions are many, but none are greater than the work that he does with Make-A-Wish to ensure that the wishes of children are granted. When we presented him with the opportunity to take over as chair of the Celebrity Server Dinner several years ago, he jumped at the chance and has since grown the event tremendously by recruiting his teammates to join in the effort. As an organization, we are extremely thankful to have a player like James on the field and a person like James in the community.”
About the Rams Community Player of the Week presented by Ameren Missouri
Each week during the 2012 season, the St. Louis Rams, along with team sponsor Ameren Missouri, will select a player who has made a positive impact on the Greater St. Louis area community, giving of himself off the field. Each honored Rams Community Player of the Week will receive a gift certificate to Ruth’s Chris Steak House, the Official Steak House of the St. Louis Rams.
Tell us how you power positive change in the community for the chance to win Rams tickets and official merchandise, by going to Facebook.com/AmerenMissouri.