In 2017, Eagles Quarterback Carson Wentz established the AO1 Foundation, which launched and funded three different service outreach programs. This included a food truck, sports facilities for children in Haiti and an outdoors camp for youth with physical illnesses.
Athletes and Community Service
Wentz is joined by thousands of professional athletes nationwide who are actively involved with community service.
Today, it is becoming more commonplace for athletes to participate in community outreach, such as visiting
children’s hospitals, running youth clinics, packaging meals for hurricane victims or promoting breast cancer awareness.
Dr. Ray Ward, interim director of the Wolfington Center, noted that this change comes the expectation that people
desire athletes to be good role models in society.
Community outreach and service is an excellent way for athletes to leave a positive mark on a community or organization.
Sophomore lacrosse and field hockey player Shannon Agnew believes that athletes and service work hand-in-hand to inspire people.
“By performing acts of service,” Agnew said. “It makes people aware that athletes are just ordinary people who can do ordinary things like anyone else, and maybe will inspire someone to take on some service their self.”
For other athletes, service is a worthwhile investment of time and rewarding experience.
Kate Lannon, sophomore basketball player, found her experience as an orientation leader to be a rewarding decision.
“This was an amazing feeling,” Lannon said. “To be some of the first people the freshman would meet and interact with on campus.
Many athletes, such as Wentz, are simply driven to support people based on personal values or desires to reach organizations that they hold dear to them.
For Wentz, his faith is a huge motivator in his service and community outreach programs. His foundation, AO1, seeks to instill human dignity and worth in people while building community and at the core of each of his outreach programs is spreading the Gospel message.
His foundation also works with Mission of Hope: Haiti, a non-profit organization that nourishes children spiritually, physically and mentally. The organization provides over 91,000 meals a day, education for 9,000 students a day, healthcare and church service resources.
The AO1’s partnership seeks to aid the organization by funding a brand-new sports facility. In spring 2017, Wentz and several other players on the Eagles traveled to Haiti to aid in the construction of the facility.
Upon completion, the building is expected to include basketball courts, weight room, track and soccer fields. It will also be the hub for recreational and competitive sports leagues.
According to the AO1, the sports training program emphasizes character development, “ to develop physical skills, foster teamwork, learn interpersonal abilities, grow in responsibility and learn discipline.” In addition, the program will incorporate mentorship and provide spiritual development opportunities.
Stateside, the foundation offers a yearly outdoors summer camp, “Camp Conquerors,” in Wentz’s home state of North Dakota. The camp is designated for children who are underserved or who are dealing with serious medical issues.
Campers are given exposure to the outdoors through a variety of activities like paddleboarding, archery or a ropes course. The aim at the program is to build community among peers, develop sports skills and learn more about the Christian faith.
Since it’s inception in August 2018, the food truck, “Thy Kingdom Crumb,” gives out free food to people regardless of age, socioeconomic level and religion.
This means that people from all walks of life, like families, college students and people experiencing homelessness can all come together and share a free, hot meal.
Why give out free food? According to AO1, “Thy Kingdom Crumb”, distributes food free of cost to “demonstrate the love of God and to infuse His hope by feeding people and uplifting communities.”
The food truck can be found at community events like Eagles Tailgates and non-profit events. Prior announcements to events will be posted on its Instagram page. Volunteer opportunities on the truck are limited to members of the food truck’s partner organization, Connect Church. They are working hand-in-hand with AO1 to make the vision of “Thy Kingdom Crumb” a reality.
If one of Wentz’s objectives is to strengthen communities, he is definitely on the right track. Dr. Ray Ward notes that service has a powerful effect on a community.
“Service is a really good way to get people together,” Ward said. “…they will leave that experience feeling closer together. ”