Justin Medlock is the owner of one of the surest foots in the CFL. But he may just have the most generous, too.
Medlock, the Bombers kicker who signed as a free-agent in the off-season, is putting his money where his foot is to raise money for children in Manitoba.
Beginning with the Week 1 matchup against the Montreal Alouettes at Investors Group Field Friday night, Medlock will not only be making a dent in the scoreboard with every long-distance kick he makes but also to his wallet.
The rules are simple: For every made field goal made at 45 yards or beyond, Medlock will donate $100 for every yard over the 45-yard mark, to a maximum of $5,000 per season. For example, if he boots a 50-yarder through the uprights, that’s $500 dollars, with all proceeds going to Variety Manitoba — a charity aimed at meeting “the tangible needs of children of all abilities in Manitoba.”
Well, actually, that 50-yard boot would really raise $1,000, thanks to an anonymous corporate donor who has promised to match Medlock’s personal contribution dollar for dollar of.
“It’s for a great cause and it feels really good to help the kids,” said Medlock, a native of Santa Clara, Calif., after Monday’s practice at IGF. “To be able to help out kids, for me that’s just a huge thing.”
The initiative first began in 2011 — Medlock’s first season with the Tiger-Cats — and then continued again in 2014 and 2015 after he returned to Hamilton following a couple of years in the NFL. In Hamilton, the program was called Kicks for Kids, where the money was used to purchase shoes for kids in need. At the end of the season, Medlock, along with a few of his teammates, would take a group of students down to a Reebok outlet store and buy each kid a new pair of shoes, while also just hanging out with them for a while.
The program was such a success that when Medlock signed with the Bombers in February, one of the first things he asked CEO Wade Miller was whether he could do something similar in Winnipeg. After working out a few of the logistics, he would get his wish.
“We’re not just here to play football, we’re here to make a name for the organization and to help the community,” said Medlock. “To be able do this, it’s a great way to feel my way around the city.”
At 32, Medlock doesn’t have any kids of his own. He has, however, been inspired by those he’s been able to meet along the way. It’s why he continues to volunteer his time for different events; why he feels it’s important to visit hospitals, and to speak with kids and their parents, many of whom just appreciate his time more than anything. It’s those moments, he said, that has changed the way he looks at being a professional athlete.
“Just to see the kids coming in and they’re happy,” said Medlock. “It makes you appreciate things a lot more. Football is just a game, you have fun and try and win some games, but there’s so much more outside of football.”
Given Medlock’ accurate foot – last season he was named the CFL’s most accurate kicker, clicking at a success rate of 87.5 per cent – it looks like he’ll have plenty more to give this season. Last season, Medlock hit 42 of 47 field goal attempts for an 89.4 percentage. From 40 yards and beyond Medlock went 14 for 18.
As for added pressure, Medlock said he doesn’t feel any. If anything, the chance to raise meaningful dollars for charity is just added motivation to continue being the best. He relishes knowing his team is relying on him, and, in a small way, so too are the kids.
“Honestly, it puts a little more focus into me,” Medlock said. “The way I approach every kick is the same, but I have some fun with those ones, so it’s always a good thing for me.”
It’s also a good thing for the kids at Variety, some of whom have already had a chance to meet Medlock up close. Last week, three families had the chance to attend practice and take pictures on the field afterward.
It was a simple gesture, but one Jerry Maslowsky, CEO of Variety Manitoba, said will have a lasting impact.
“We all have heroes,” said Maslowsky. “What it’s giving these kids is an opportunity they wouldn’t otherwise have.”
Hamilton, J. (2016, June 20). The Bombers’ Justin Medlock will donate cash to charity when he hits a long field goal. Retrieved June 30, 2016, from http://www.winnipegfreepress.com/sports/football/bombers/the-bombers-justin-medlock-will-donate-cash-to-charity-when-he-hits-a-long-field-goal-383717321.html
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