The Panthers recently unveiled a new robot named KP (short for Keep Pounding) to interact with kids in the community, and the organization has already put KP to work by using him to virtually connect with patients at Levine Children’s Hospital after practice on Friday, Oct. 8.
Robots, @Panthers, and lots of smiles. Sounds like the perfect day, right? That’s how a group of our strong cancer-fighting warriors spent their day as part of the @NFL’s Crucial Catch initiative. Thank you, Panthers, for honoring our brave little heroes! https://t.co/92hiirLccf— Levine Children’s (@LevineChildrens) October 8, 2021
Speaking to Darin Gantt of the team’s official website, Panthers director of community relations Riley Fields had the following to say about the addition of KP to the team:
“We are excited to welcome KP to the team,” ... We continue to face COVID-related challenges for in-person access to schools, military and hospital visits plus other opportunities. ... KP’s communication and ‘go everywhere’ ability provides us with a unique way for Panthers players to directly engage with the community.”
Seeing the debut of KP — and the positive impact it had on the kids at Levine’s Children’s Hospital — inspired me to highlight some of the positive things members of the Panthers organization are doing to connect with the local community that you may have missed.
Panthers ‘3rd & Goal Read Along’ video series
The Panthers have partnered with Scholastic, North Carolina Department of Public Instruction, South Carolina Board of Education and the Children’s Theatre of Charlotte to create a read along video program to help ‘encourage a love of reading for students in K-3’ and to ‘develop grade level reading proficiency skills by the end of the third grade’. The video series features Panthers players reading books in a ‘read along’ style for students to follow along.
Personally, I’m a huge fan of this program as I believe that education is one of the most valuable gifts we can give to our children, and it’s nice to see the Panthers step in and help make reading (and learning) fun for kids.
Panthers staff assist in Flags of Remembrance program
This year, the Panthers staff helped plant American flags in Romare Bearden Park as part of the FF Steven Coakley Flags of Remembrance program on the 20th anniversary of September 11.
It goes without saying that 9/11 has changed the lives of many Americans forever, and it’s incredibly moving to see the powerful display of remembrance the Panthers helped create. In the related link above, you can watch a brief 30-second video of the flag display’s creation to get an idea of the work the Panthers’ staff gave to the community.
David and Nicole Tepper Foundation
Last month, the David and Nicole Tepper Foundation teamed up with the John M. Belk Endowment, Classroom Central and Carolina Panthers Charities to donate more than 15,000 backpacks with supplies to school districts in North and South Carolina.
Panthers owner David Tepper spoke to Jason Huber of WMBF News about the donations:
“Ensuring that students have the basic resources they need for the classroom is critical for their confidence, development and success,” ... “I am proud to team up with our community partners for this important effort.”
As I mentioned earlier, education is one of the most important things we can provide for future generations, and it warms my heart to see the Panthers organization help provide school supplies to kids who may not be able to afford them. No child should struggle in school because of a lack of supplies, and it makes me proud to call myself a Panthers fan when I see the outreach provided by the organization in the education sector.
Christian McCaffrey Foundation
According to their official mission statement, ‘The Christian McCaffrey Foundation serves as a catalyst for the community and country by supporting those who sacrifice daily for the benefit of many. We show up for our servicemen and women for standing at the front of the most critical challenges of our time.’
McCaffrey has also partnered with Panthers linebacker Shaq Thompson to create 22Together, a charity effort created to serve the underserved youth of the Charlotte area. McCaffrey and Thompson use 22Together to ‘work with the Boys and Girls Club of Greater Charlotte and the Charlotte-Mecklenburg Police Department’s Police Activities League (PAL) to provide sports programs to Charlotte’s underserved youth. With volunteer members of the police department and business community as coaches, we are coming together to help kids find their way onto the field.’
Last year, McCaffrey was the team’s nominee for the 2020 Salute to Service Award, presented by USAA, which honors the NFL players and personnel who demonstrate commitment to honoring and supporting the military. After being nominated, McCaffrey told Panthers.com’s Darin Gantt “I’ve always had a huge respect for the military,” ... “I have a little bit of military background on my dad’s side, so growing up, it’s just some of the values instilled in me at a young age. Without the men and women who defend our country, I wouldn’t be able to play the game that I love so much.”
The military has always been a big part of my family. My grandfather served in Korea, and my brother and two of my cousins served in Iraq and Afghanistan. My brother’s dedication and service to his country ultimately cost him his life, so seeing McCaffrey continue to honor the men and women who have graciously served our country is one of the things that always makes me proud to say that I am a fan of the Panthers organization.
The Panthers are an NFL franchise whose primary objective is to win the Super Bowl every season, but they’re also a part of a local community, and it’s refreshing to see that they have chosen to embrace the community around them and use their platform to lift people up rather than hold them down. I may not enjoy the on-field results that are given by the Panthers every Sunday, but one thing I will always enjoy — and root for — is the work that is done off the field to ensure the community always thrives. That off-field work, and the team’s mission to continue to provide it, will always have my support, no matter how good or bad the on-field product may ever be.