Charles Tillman’s day job is all about taking — primarily footballs intended for opposing receivers. But when he’s not harassing NFL offenses, Charles focuses on giving back to the community.
In 2008, Charles’ daughter was diagnosed with cardiomyopathy, a disease that usually leads to heart failure and death. Fortunately, his daughter was the recipient of a heart transplant, and today she is a vibrant, active young girl with a bright future.
As a result of this experience, Charles and his wife Jackie founded the Charles Tillman Cornerstone Foundation, which is dedicated to providing opportunities and resources to children and families in need. It was this selfless dedication to service that made Charles a natural choice to be the keynote speaker for the 2016 Boys Town Booster Banquet.
But Charles didn’t simply fly in, speak at the banquet and fly out; he and his wife spent the day at Boys Town, touring the campus and meeting star-struck kids and faculty.
Charles and Jackie began their tour with lunch at a Family Home on campus, where they got to meet Boys Town kids and see what makes them different.
“Everyone’s looking you in your eye, and they’ve got that nice, firm handshake,” Charles said, recounting his first encounter. “They have great social skills.”
Next, it was off to Wegner Middle School, where Charles spoke to students and engaged in a lively question-and-answer session. After spending a few hours on campus, he only needed one word to sum up his initial reaction: “Wow,” he said.
After meeting the coaches of Boys Town’s various athletic teams, Charles and Jackie enjoyed a tour of the Field House, where the Boys Town Cowboys practice and train to become men and women who “compete with character.”
That evening at the Booster Banquet, Charles beamed as he handed out award after award to deserving student-athletes, all of whom had shown outstanding character and skill in their particular sports. It was evident that he enjoyed seeing these kids, whose futures were once in great doubt, being celebrated for triumphing over adversity. In fact, Charles was so impressed, he made a donation to the Boys Town Boosters himself, helping fund this organization that does so much to provide at-risk children the uniforms and equipment they need to compete.
As for his focus on giving, Charles put it simply: “I truly believe that strength is for service, not status. In my opinion, that’s the winning formula, to keep giving to serve others. That’s why we’re here, to help each other out.”
True to his word, Charles helped out a whole lot of young people that day.