Jacksonville Jaguars left tackle Luke Joeckel had his rookie season cut short due to injury, but he’s still taking time during his recovery to give back to the community. Mark Lane from our The Landry Hat – Fansided’s Dallas Cowboys site – recently had a chance to catch up with Joeckel at a charity event for the Lutheran Social Services of the South. Here’s the story and his interview with Joeckel about his rookie season.
For his first five games of 2013, Jaguars right tackle Luke Joeckel’s vocation was to protect the passer. But his advocation has always been for foster children in North Texas. Recently, the second overall pick in last year’s draft donated $25,000 to Lutheran Social Services of the South to aid their Foster In Texas program.
Helping out North Texas foster children was something his paternal grandparents instilled in him and his siblings at a young age.
“Christmastime, we would drive out and give gifts to the kids and stuff like that,” Joeckel said at meet-and-greet with two foster families and their cumulative seventeen children at Mama’s Pizza in Fort Worth. The budding pro took his time to sign footballs, T-shirts, and hoodies for the children.
“So, it’s just something that I grew up with. And, you know, when I have the opportunities to be able to make a good living with football, it’s the best thing to always give back. There’s not a better feeling than giving back. There’s no reward or accolade that compares to making a difference in someone’s life.”
Rebekah Poling, Regional Development Director for Foster In Texas, wants to be a “good steward” with Joeckel’s contributions.
“Luke has made such an impact on our ministry,” said Poling.
Foster in Texas serves 200 North Texas kids and 80 families, including those in Tyler. North Texas is one of the biggest hubs of foster care.
While Foster in Texas has a partnership with the state to where the organization’s reimbursements go straight to the foster families, the reimbursements are tight, which do not allow for community outreach programs.
Poling admitted the organization would, “like to be practical with [Joeckel's] gifts.” What Foster in Texas plans to do with Joeckel’s donation is strengthen their training programs, which include CPR certification, first aid training, medication training, cultural and sensitivity training, and trauma-informed training among others.
They also plan to do fun events with their foster families, since the advocation is so stressful.
“We just want to love on our parents and love on our kids,” Poling stated.
Joeckel’s contributions will also help fund Christmas parties, birthday parties, and other efforts in allowing foster kids to experience a normal childhood.
The benevolent right tackle was generous with his time as well, answering inquiries about his height, weight, fastest teammate, and the toughest team he has faced in the pros and college. Joeckel even made a confession to the kids.
“How were you in your first game?” a youngster asked.
“I threw up,” the soon to be second-year tackle replied with the dining room erupting in laughter.
Luke had another confession to make: “Y’all are a lot stronger than I am. You are the tough guys. Be a role model for me, and I’ll be a role model for you.”
For more information on Foster In Texas, please visit www.fosterintexas.org.
– Daniel Lago
Yell at me on Twitter @dlago89