He Came Back to Give Back — The Caring For Kids Foundation
Two-time Super Bowl champion tight end Donald Demetrius ‘Butch’ Rolle earned the nickname “Mr. Touchdown” for his streak of 10 consecutive touchdown receptions over his seven-year NFL career with the Phoenix Cardinals and Buffalo Bills.
Despite the accolades, the current University of Phoenix student’s impressive accomplishments extend far beyond his football and subsequent bodybuilding career and have made an even bigger impact where it matters to him most – the community.
Rolle, who is currently in his second year of pursuing a doctorate in education, founded the Butch Rolle Caring for Kids Foundation in 2013. The South Florida non-profit coordinates with other community organizations to empower at-risk children with programs they need to live happy, healthy and fulfilling lives. While his name may conjure images of endzone celebrations, the former NFL star has become more well-known – at least at University of Phoenix – as an example of the type of community leader the University hopes to produce through its Doctoral Studies program.
Rolle said his success as a professional athlete gave him the insight and opportunity to give back.
“My NFL experience definitely opened doors for me to collaborate with other sponsorships and supporters to help obtain our vision and mission as a foundation. I was fortunate enough to play on a team that is considered a dynasty, and I am still able to capitalize on the success we had as a team,” Rolle said. “Giving back to my community is important to me, and it shows kids that no matter where you start or come from, you should always come back to help others succeed.”
Caring for Kids is a collaboration of local community organizations focused on removing barriers to education and personal development. The foundation supports positive educational environments, provides classroom supplies to cover shortages common in the area, and offers scholarships to help students pursue higher education.
Rolle founded the foundation to help local learning environments to be welcoming, encouraging and wholesome places for students. In addition, the organization also offers several social services, including treatment programs for children and teens that need the assistance.
Having grown up in Hallandale, Florida, Rolle has a strong commitment to improving opportunities and education, and this is one of the ways he’s raising his personal ceiling to help change their lives for the better.
“My duties and goals as a positive role model are to help young kids realize their potential and dreams,” he said. “I have always had a passion to be an important factor in my community, using my brand that was established through sports and hard work has given me that opportunity to reach out to others to join forces with my foundation.”
Rolle’s accomplishments off the field are not going unnoticed. Dr. Hinrich Eylers, vice provost at University of Phoenix, applauds Rolle’s outreach programs as an example of the type of scholar leadership the College wants to produce through its Scholar-Practitioner-Learner (SPL) Model.
The goal of the SPL Model, he said, is not to graduate researchers, but rather leaders who do research. At the heart of the program is a desire to help position doctoral candidates as leaders in their community, organization and industry. Throughout the program, faculty serve as not only educators but mentors to support adult learners as they seek to apply their practitioner research in the real world.
Dr. Eylers said that Rolle’s foundation is type of outcome the program hopes to produce.
“I’m proud of Butch and other students who have started charitable organizations leveraging their knowledge acquired at University of Phoenix,” Eylers said. “This is a really good example of how our doctoral students take what they learn in the program and put it to work in and for the benefit of their communities.”
Despite his large role in the community, Rolle wants people to know that his foundation is for all supporters to take part in contributing to the cause. During events, he routinely calls for volunteers to serve as mentors. Along with supporting children’s education, he wants to promote volunteerism as a community pillar – with both children and adults.
He said that serving as an example to all age groups is an essential part of his legacy to positively impact communities.
“I have a saying that I use, ‘I came back to give back,’” Rolle said. “I want my legacy to be known that I did my part as a positive role model that influenced a lot of people, and I have inspired these people around me to reach their full potential.”