By Mary Beard
Special to Stlouisrams.com
The St. Louis Rams Community Player of the Week is linebacker
Football fans in St. Louis know James Laurinaitis’ name because of his strength and abilities on the turf. But many people in the area also know him from his charitable efforts in the community. Both during the season and offseason, he gives his time and talents to causes ranging from providing clean drinking water to communities around the world to assisting children and women in need, making him a major player in and out of uniform.
One organization that James continues to hold a special connection to is the Make-A-Wish Foundation. For the fourth year in a row, he served as the host for the Rams’ annual Celebrity Night of Wishes. The evening included a dinner, live auction and a tip collecting contest. James and many of his teammates worked their way through the crowd competing against each other for the highest tip totals by signing autographs and posing for pictures. From that night alone, the Missouri chapter of Make-A-Wish, with James leading the way, was able to raise enough money to fund 56 wishes for local children battling life-threatening diseases.
Throughout the season, James donates 20 tickets to K-Life each home game so that local children have the opportunity to experience an NFL game at the Edward Jones Dome. James is also active with Living Water International, a Christian non-profit dedicated to helping communities around the globe acquire desperately needed clean water. As part of his support, he has traveled to El Salvador to witness first-hand one of Living Waters’ projects and is now focusing on a “Play Well” campaign with the intention of providing clean water to kids throughout the world so they can play well.
James has also found ways to stay active in the community, quite literally, by participating in and creating charitable events that allow his fellow teammates and him to show off their athletic abilities outside of the Edward Jones Dome.
Swapping his football cleats for golf shoes, James played in the fourth consecutive Challenge for Champions Golf Tournament this summer, an event hosted at Old Hickory Golf Club in St. Peters by the Rams and March of Dimes. Golfers bid on players like James to complement their foursome, all hoping that the players’ football skills translate to a different kind of green. The event raised $100,000 for March of Dimes, an organization that specializes in ensuring the health of all babies, especially those born prematurely.
In May, James teamed up with St. Louis Cardinals pitcher Adam Wainwright to host the St. Louis Celebrity Shoot at the St. Louis Skeet and Trap Club. Along with members of both professional sports teams, James helped benefit St. Louis area high school coaches with a day of trap, skeet and sport clay shooting. Then, in June, James participated in the YWCA Walk a Mile in Her Shoes event. The international awareness campaign works to stop rape, sexual assault and gender violence by having men don high heels and march in support of women. Though he couldn’t wear the signature red heels due to a foot injury, he lent his support to the cause by offering encouraging words to the crowd before they took their first wobbly steps.
Also in June, James played in the Jeff Fisher and Friends Celebrity Softball Game to raise money for five different charities. He also participated in the Ram’s signature staff day of service event, a playground build at Washington Elementary. There he worked side-by-side with his fellow teammates and Rams staff members to build a play structure, install basketball hoops and make an outdoor area for children to enjoy.
“It’s been fun to watch James develop into the team leader that he is today both on and off the field,” said Molly Higgins, vice president of corporate communications/civic affairs, St. Louis Rams. “He is one of our organization’s greatest ambassadors and someone who is universally respected throughout the building from the locker room to the front office staff.”
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.