By Mary Beard
Special to Stlouisrams.com
The St. Louis Rams Community Player of the Week is punter Johnny Hekker.
As the punter for the Rams, Johnny Hekker’s accuracy and consistency are unmatched. Johnny’s consistency spills over to his commitment to the St. Louis community, where he is always enthusiastic in giving his time to help St. Louis-area organizations and causes.
Specifically, Johnny stands out as a role model to local kids and high school students. This past spring Johnny was on hand for the ‘PLAY 60’ Field Day at Rams Park. There he led students from schools across the community in fun fitness challenges. This year Johnny is the Rams’ Ambassador for ‘Fuel Up to PLAY60’, the joint NFL-National Dairy Council health and wellness program for students. The initiative empowers youth to ‘Fuel Up’ by consuming nutritious foods, including low fat dairy products, and to ‘PLAY 60’ by getting sixty minutes of daily exercise.
Johnny has also taken an active role with Team Activities for Special Kids (TASK), an organization whose mission is to enrich the lives of kids with special needs by providing athletic and social opportunities. Johnny supports the organization year-round attending events, raising awareness and promoting their fundraisers like the Rock N’ Roll Marathon coming up this month. Last week Johnny visited Webster Groves High School for the 2013 Third and Long film screening and discussion panel to ensure local students are learning about history and acceptance. Third and Long: A History of African Americans in the NFL is a multi-part documentary highlighting both the struggles and triumphs of African American professional football players. After viewing the film with students from Webster Groves and Hazelwood Central High School, Johnny lead a small group discussion discussing the film and how it can speak to the student’s own lives.
When Johhny isn’t making a positive impact on younger generations, he lends his time to other local organizations. This summer he participated in Coach Fisher’s Celebrity Softball game which benefitted five local charities and later in the fall he attended the Make-A-Wish Celebrity Server Dinner where he competed against teammates to collect ‘tip’ donations benefitting the charity. During each home game Johnny teams up with Greg Zeurlein and
Johnny also joined the Rams Front Office staff this summer when they worked concession stands at a Cardinals baseball game. Not content to just stand behind the counter, Johnny took to the stands and peddled popcorn up and down the aisles. His efforts helped raise more than $5,000 for the Rams Foundation.
“Johnny is an outstanding ambassador for the St. Louis Rams and someone who is always willing to help in our community outreach efforts,” said Molly Higgins, Rams’ vice president of corporate communications/civic affairs. “Because he’s so engaging and personable, he’s built a great fan following. Last week, he took to Twitter to encourage people to sign up to volunteer with TASK to assist with the upcoming Rock N’ Roll Marathon and everyone who signs up will have a chance to win a dinner with Johnny or the opportunity to take him to school. It was great to see him come up with the creative idea of videotaping a message and leveraging his Twitter platform to do good for such a wonderful local charity.”
About the Rams Community Player of the Week
Each week during the 2013 season, the St. Louis Rams will select a player who has made a positive impact on the Greater St. Louis 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.