An interview with Sarah Edenfield about Travis Kelce’s community work with 87 & Running.
Through his impactful community work, Edenfield says Kelce has been empowering underserved children and their families through his foundation, 87 & Running, along with other charitable efforts for as long as he’s been in the NFL. As the Director of Community Outreach, Edenfield has seen the community changes first hand.
“When we have the opportunity to do these interviews, it’s great because Travis wouldn’t ever bring up this stuff,” Edenfield told us recently. “He’s very humble when it comes to what he’s doing in the community, so it’s nice for us to have an opportunity to tell a little bit about what he’s doing.”
For years, Kelce has been active in the greater Kansas City area, partnering with important organizations like The Boys & Girls Club or Operation Breakthrough to use his platform as a high-profile athlete to benefit those often marginalized or forgotten. Even during this period where the coronavirus has brought so many things to a halt, Kelce made sure his impact continued.
“Right when all of this started, people who could were hopping in to help and do what they could. I’m sure you saw Travis on social media with Tyreek [Hill]. He’d been challenged to provide 6,000 meals [for Harvesters and Operation Breakthrough] and, Travis being Travis, was like, ‘I’ll double that. No problem!’
“Then of course his relationship with Operation Breakthrough has just been huge for him. It wasn’t like he just wanted to do the easy thing and provide some meals. He wanted to make sure those kids were taken care of, so he also made a donation to them to make sure they could keep things running—basically, business as usual for the coming months through this time. So that was instrumental.”
The last few months have been traumatic for everyone around the globe as communities deal with economic loss and health concerns. For those who struggle to even keep up with basic resources, however, a season like this becomes even more difficult to handle. Edenfield says Kelce snapped into action to make sure Operation Breakthrough would be okay in this time, even if cameras weren’t there to cover it.
“The thing that is so cool about Travis that I think a lot of people may not understand is that he does so much stuff behind the scenes,” says Edenfield. “It’s just so Travis to think that it’s not really a big deal. A couple weeks ago, we found out through our contact at Operation Breakthrough that he actually reached out and did a Zoom call with some of their kids, just to check in on them, to make sure they were doing okay and lift their spirits a bit.
“I had no idea he even did that,” she continues. “He didn’t ask me for a phone number or anything. He just did it on his own and I probably wouldn’t have even known about it if our contact hadn’t brought it up. So that’s just one current example of the many times he wants to be at Operation Breakthrough with no cameras. We try to highlight it, but there’s just so much he does behind the scenes.”
For the last few years, Kelce has put on a fashion show with friends called Walk the Walk to benefit Operation Breakthrough. Last year, he was also able to extend his charitable work to impact his hometown of Cleveland with his first Walk the Walk event in Ohio. The proceeds raised $80K for much-needed transportation to bring kids to important after-school programming at The Heights Foundation.
“Last year, we branched out. He’s done some stuff in his hometown of Cleveland throughout the years and helped his high school football program, but last year was the first year we held a Walk the Walk in Cleveland as well,” says Edenfield.
“That was on the vision board for a while, being able to branch out and make efforts in Cleveland as well. That was cool to see it all come to fruition. Kansas City has become home and he loves playing there, but there’s something cool about going back to do something in your hometown and having your family around. That was a surreal moment for him last year.”
From this point forward, Edenfield says the organization’s focus is to enable Kelce to build a legacy. Instead of one-off appearances or short-term solutions, Kelce and his staff are now working to further their long-term impact in very intentional ways.
“We like to be intentional with what we do. We want to view everything we do within a bigger picture and bigger scope. Travis has now been in Kansas City so long and he’s really wanting to just leave a legacy. That’s where we’re at right now.”
Because of this, Edenfield says their next big project includes helping Operation Breakthrough purchase a building adjacent to their current facility in hopes of creating a safe space for high school students.
“One of the big missions is helping underserved kids and Operation Breakthrough does such a great job with that,” says Edenfield. “They’re trying to actually purchase a building adjacent to their current facility to use as an incubator for high school students.
“Right now, when students age out of their grade school program, there’s really nothing for them at this point. They want to buy that and use it as a safe place for high-school students to go, like a co-working space with different interactive elements and areas in there, which would be really cool.
“That’s the top of our vision right now, pledging to help make that happen for them. The sooner the better, so we’re just focused on fundraising for that now. And that goes into what I said earlier about leaving a legacy—being able to purchase a building and get that program going would be incredible.”