By Justin Schmidt, Multimedia Journalist - bio | email
Tamba Hali (AP)
Derrick Johnson (AP)
KANSAS CITY, MO (KCTV) -
Kansas City Chiefs defensive stars Tamba Hali and Derrick Johnson helped serve dinner to nearly 375 needy people at the Bishop Sullivan Center Tuesday night.
Hali did more than just dish out the victuals. He paid for the chicken spedini and pasta salad made from locally grown vegetables.
He said Kansas City has been supportive to him and he believes he must give back.
"We want to be involved, my girlfriend and I. I'm working hard. She's working hard putting things together," Hali said. "We want to be involved. We don't want to just give money and that be it. We want to create an awareness around the event, so people can know and they can help us well. That's what is touching my heart at this time."
It's just a typical move for the man who came from the hardest of hardscrabble lives in Africa. Born in Liberia, Hali was a youngster when he fled his war-torn country for the United States, where his father then lived. He spent 12 years working to bring his mother to this country. His mother was shot during a mission trip and had a younger son killed.
"I come from a tough place. I know what it's like to not have meals, not eat and to struggle," he said. "Whatever I can say from my heart, to touch them, to say they're not alone. This is happening around the world, whatever we can do as Chiefs, we want to be helpful and involved."
Since he signed his NFL contract, Hali, who has since become a U.S. citizen, has done much behind the scenes to help out the less fortunate. He made headlines last week after he left a big tip at a Kansas City area restaurant.
Johnson and Hali have been through the tough losing seasons with the Chiefs. This year, the Chiefs are the toast of the NFL going from 2-14 last year to the only unbeaten team left this year.
"Derrick and I have been here for so long and through thick and thin. When he has his events, I show up. Derrick is a guy I can lean on and he'll show up," Hali explained. "It's almost like a family thing. We feel welcome to be doing it."
It's important for players to give back to their community no matter how the team is faring, Johnson said. He said he was excited to join Hali when he extended the invitation.
"We pride ourselves on giving back, helping out people in need, using this platform we have in the NFL to our advantage," Johnson said. "We take a lot of pride in giving back."
Both players admit while fans have always been pleased to see them that it especially the case now the Chiefs are undefeated.
"The vibe is a lot different now that we're winning. But we have a huge fan base here in Kansas City, and regardless if we are winning or losing, they're always happy to see us, always have kind words for us," Johnson said. "But luckily for us, we're 8-0 and the whole city is pumped."
Mike Mathews of the Bishop Sullivan Center welcomed the players.
"It's a very special night. We have some generous people in our city," he said. "I think it means everything. It means they're committed to this community, to helping people who are struggling in their lives. It also shows they understand that not everyone is a football player. It's good for people to know where their meals are coming from, and that they are not alone and that people are caring for them."
For more on the Bishop Sullivan Center or to donate, click here.
Copyright 2013 KCTV (Meredith Corp.) All rights reserved.
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