From the gridiron to the community, Philadelphia Eagles safety Rodney McLeod and his wife Erika have been making a significant impact in the lives of kids in and around the tri-state area.
Their support of underprivileged youth continued one day after the Eagles’ big victory over the New York Jets in Week 13, with the couple hosting the inaugural Art and Sole Sneaker Ball for their Change our Future foundation. The gala was the start of the foundation’s 12 Days of Christmas celebration.
Guests were encouraged to wear their favorite kicks, along with donating shoes or a toy to fill up the sneaker wall and holiday sleigh that would be donated to over 100 local kids.
“Just seeing everyone dressed up and getting to have a conversation starter with the sneakers they are wearing. It’s just really supportive of what we have going on,” said Erika McLeod.
The ballroom also displayed a sneaker museum, which included a multitude of high-end shoes that were donated by local businesses and boutiques. There were also tons of memorabilia up for grabs to bid on as part of the silent auction aspect of the gala.
The event kicked off with attendees rolling through the red carpet to pose for pictures and show off their kicks. Notable Eagles players such as Darius Slay, Steven Nelson, TJ Edwards, Miles Sanders, and others took pictures with their teammate.
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The Eagles safety donned a custom jacket that read “Kids First” on the back, going along with the theme of supporting the youth in the community.
“I just wanted something that people would remember us by, and never forget our slogan and our mantra of what’s going on. Whenever you see me walk into a building or leave a building, you’re going to notice and see kids first, and that is what the mission is about,” Rodney said about the suit jacket.
After the photo session on the red carpet, Rodney and Erika thanked their guests, sponsors, and co-chairs of the event, followed by a video about the foundation and the work they have accomplished. As the gala continued, TV host and radio veteran Quincy Harris hosted an auction-style donation event.
Eagles offensive lineman Jordan Maillata was the first to get the ball rolling, pledging to donate $5,000 to the foundation with other Eagles players also giving donations.
Pennsylvania State Senator Anthony Williams also got in on the action, donating $50k for the next couple of years. After giving his speech, Wiliams led the crowd in an Eagles chant which had the crowd and attendees roaring.
A representative from the City of Philadelphia presented the McLeods with a proclamation dedication on behalf of mayor Jim Kenny. The foundation raised over $200,000 from the event, smashing their stated goal of $75,000 by the end of the night. McLeod was named the Week 14 NFLPA Community MVP, thanks to his and Erika’s charitable work and Art and Sole Sneaker Ball.