KANSAS CITY, Mo. — Chiefs tight end Travis Kelce made plenty of big catches during the team's win last Sunday at Pittsburgh, but its a play off the field that earned him recognition as the NFL Players Association Community MVP for Week 2 of the season.
“It's an unbelievable feeling,” Kelce said. “By far one of the coolest things that I've experienced since being in the NFL. It's humbling, it really is. To be recognized for helping out in the community means everything to me.”
Kelce's foundation partnered with Operation Breakthrough in Kansas City for the grand opening of the 87 & Running Robotics Lab on Tuesday. The local non-profit provides services for local children in poverty through advocacy, emergency aid and education. Kelce and his 87 & Running Foundation contributed $45,000 to the robotics lab, which will serve 175 elementary school children and 100 high school freshmen while boosting their exposure to science, technology, engineering and math (STEM) studies with hands-on experiences and resources.
His foundation has partnered with Operation Breakthrough on several programs throughout the years. Kelce knew he wanted to help out somehow with the organization's new expansion. When told about the need for a new robotics lab, he jumped at the opportunity.
“It's something that's very dear to my heart,” Kelce said. “Those kids are awesome. The after school program that they have been able to put together for these kids is unbelievable.”
The 28-year-old tight end also hosted his annual Walk the Walk Fashion on Thursday. Proceeds from the event benefits organizations supporting underprivileged children and families including Operation Breakthrough and Children's Mercy Hospital.
Kelce knew even before he entered the NFL he wanted to give something back to the commumnity. “My mother and my father ingrained it into me to give help whenever you can,” he said. Working with at-risk children made the most sense to Kelce.
“I used to look up to athletes as superstars, as heroes,” Kelce said. “I understand how my influence can help out kids and give them a positive image and give them motivation to do something special in their lives.”
Kelce receiving the Community MVP award comes as no surprise to his head coach Andy Reid.
“Travis has got a big heart,” Reid said. He recalls going out to dinner with general manager Brett Veach in St. Joseph during training camp. The team's tight ends went to dinner there as well, and Reid saw a young kid give Kelce a hug and refuse to let go.
“Travis embraced it,” Reid said. “Travis made that little guy feel like he was the greatest guy on earth, and that's how he rolls. Good heart, big heart.”
Kelce established his 87 & Running Foundation to provide resources for disadvantaged youth and supporting educational opportunities in business, athletics, STEM and arts. The organization also launched its third annual Catching for a Cause program this season, which allows fans to make contributions based on how many catches the tight end has during 2018.
The NFLPA will make $10,000 donation along with an in-kind contribution from Delta Private Jets to the foundation or charity of Kelce's choice as part of the weekly honor. Kelce follows earlier winners this season including Houston Texans defensive back Tyrann Mathieu and Los Angeles Chargers running back Melvin Gordon.
The NFLPA will also partner with Forever Collectibles in creating a limited-edition bobblehead of Kelce with part of the proceeds from the collector's item going to Kelce's charitable efforts.
“I have not seen it and I'll be waiting for it, that's for sure,” Kelce said with a smile.
The weekly award makes Kelce a finalist along with other winners throughout the season for the Alan Page Community Award. The players association recently renamed its community services award in honor of Page, a member of the Pro Footbll Hall of Fame and 15-year NFL veteran who later served as an associate justice of the Minnesota Supreme Court.