CHARLOTTE, N. C. — Panthers defensive end Brian Burns delivers Christmas joy, and toys, to local children in Charlotte.
When he’s not taking down opposing quarterbacks, Carolina’s sack-leader enjoys giving back to the kids.
After wrapping up Tuesday’s padded practice, the Pro Bowl pass rusher spent his evening passing out Christmas joy and presents to more than 60 kids at the Thompson Child & Family Focus center.
“I was blessed and fortunate enough to have good Christmases in my childhood.” Burns says events like this are what it’s all about, “I know people that don’t have that same blessing and I’m just grateful and in the position to make that happen for them.”
And Thompson Child & Family Focus is thankful that Burns is on its team.
“One, is they’re getting gifts. They’re also getting to engage with what could be their hero. A professional football player, that lives in the local community, giving back. So that’s an amazing opportunity and treat.” CEO Will Jones says that many of the children in their mentoring program were born less than a mile from Bank Of America Stadium, but have never had the chance to go inside.
Burns was joined by several family members, including his mom Angela, who says giving back is nothing new for her son.
“I can remember one Christmas,” Angela Burns proudly smiles, “I remember him giving his toys away to some of his cousins that didn’t get a lot of things that he had gotten. And that was like at five or six (years old).”
Brian’s mom, wearing her No.53 Panthers jersey, got emotional while talking about her son. “I was almost in tears today, watching how his face lit up as he was giving out the gifts and the bags to the kids. And it’s awesome.”
“It feels great, it feels great.” Brian a.k.a. Spidey Burns smiled. “Those are the things that make what I do so important to me. you know what I’m saying, because I used to look up to guys in my position and now I’m doing the same and I’m giving back… And showing love. Just to see the their smile and know that they’ll remember this. It means a lot.”
Thompson Child & Family Focus, Friends of the Children- Charlotte is a two-generation mentoring model program, designed to come alongside children at a young age, and walk with them for 12.5 years, building resiliency through consistent relationships with caring adults. Each year, they welcome new cohorts of 8 boys and 8 girls that are entering into first grade. The program commits a minimum of four hours per week with each child, serving in the classroom, the community, and the home. They also commit to growing with the parents/heads of household and commit a full-time mentor to engaging with the parents. This program is COMPLETELY community driven, as there are no government nor Medicaid dollars for this service. The program costs about $9,000 per child per year, and they currently have around 56 children in the program. Major gifts director Candice Johnson says “We are excited to partner with Brian and his family for Christmas and know it will make such an impact on the lives of our children.”
Brian Burns has been active in the Charlotte community since joining the Panthers organization in 2019. He has donated his time and resources to other initiatives with the Thompson Child & Family Focus in past years as well as to A Roof Above Men’s Shelter. Brian also assisted 20 single moms and their children last year around the holidays through family and child services. The year prior, he donated 500 turkeys along with fryers to the local fire department. Tuesday’s event is just one of the many ways Brian supports his local Charlotte community and shows his leadership off the football field.