COLUMBUS, Ohio (WCMH) — Ohio State All-American J.T. Tuimoloau hosted a free football camp for dozens of kids at KIPP Columbus on Friday.
When he was in the second grade, Tuimoloau went to a free football camp at the University of Washington hosted by NFL quarterback Russell Wilson who was still in college at the time. It’s an experience Tuimoloau still remembers to this day and a big reason for putting on this inaugural camp for kids in the third through eight grade.
“I’m one of you guys. They might see me as this football player at Ohio State but inside I’m a kid at heart,” Tuimoloau said.
His inner kid allowed the kids who showed up to have fun and learn a few fundamentals just like he did at Wilson’s camp more than 12 years ago.
“I was in these kids shoes once and just to give them hope or spend a little time with them, whether it’s to share knowledge or just to have a little fun, I always want to give back and show them my support,” he said.
Tuimoloau’s support benefitted the Boys and Girls Club of central Ohio and the Lindy Infante Foundation, which helps cover the costs of youth athletics.
“A lot of our kids, even our adults, only see him on TV so of course in their eyes they think he’s this imaginary person,” said Jermaine McAlpine, chief operating officer of the central Ohio Boys and Girls Club. “For them to be able to come out here on this field and see him out here interacting with them, it’s big because at the end of the day it shows them what’s possible.”
Tuimoloau’s collaboration with both organizations is made possible through his name, image and likeness partnership with the Cohesion Foundation.
“To have JT with us today, this is a dream come true,” said Stephanie Infante, president of the Infante Foundation. “I mean we are so excited to be able to work along side a NIL foundation that is all about charitable work here in the community.”
The 20-year-old Tuimoloau is from the state of Washington but is part of the Columbus community now and giving back to it through the game he loves.
“Just to be able to give back has always been one of my biggest motives,” he said. “Growing up and never forgetting those helped you and just give them inspiration on their journey.”