Super Bowl champion Leonard Fournette visits Jewish summer camp for children with cancer
By JACOB GURVIS
(JTA) — Super Bowl champion Leonard Fournette paid a surprise visit to a Jewish overnight camp for children with cancer, blood disorders and other chronic illnesses.
Fournette, who won a Super Bowl in 2021 with the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, ran football drills, signed autographs and danced with campers during his visit on Sunday to Camp Simcha in Glen Sprey, New York. He arrived in a helicopter and revealed himself from under a fake tiger head to a room of cheering campers.
The tiger may have been a callout to LSU, where Fournette had an outstanding collegiate career.
Camp Simcha and a sister camp, Camp Simcha Special, are operated by Chai Lifeline, a Jewish nonprofit serving families with children who have serious diseases. “Chai” means life in Hebrew, and “Simcha” means joy. The camps are open to kids ages 6-20.
“It’s been great, giving back to these kids,” Fournette said in a Camp Simcha video. “We all have our own problems, even myself, but the battle these kids face each and every day and for the rest of their lives, they’re the champions in our heart. This is what counts. This is the greatest thing I’ve done thus far, and I hope I can be a member here and come back anytime I’m able to come back.”
Fournette’s visit was organized by New York State Assemblyman Simcha Eichenstein, according to a press release from the camp.
“Leonard Fournette may be a superstar on the field, but today he was a true superhero at Camp Simcha, where he stole the hearts of campers and staff,” Eichenstein said.
We know you are great at running on the field, but today I witnessed your compassionate side – which is way larger than a football field. Thank you, Leonard! pic.twitter.com/Rfy9WrVMjx
— Simcha Eichenstein (@SEichenstein) August 13, 2023
Former MLB All-Star Yasiel Puig visited Camp Simcha in 2019. The camp has also welcomed Jewish influencers, according to a spokesperson.
“[Fournette’s] kindness and passion for giving back resonate deeply with our mission,” said Camp Simcha Director Nachman Maimon, according to the release. “To see the sheer joy and happiness in our campers’ eyes as they danced and interacted with him was genuinely heartwarming. It’s the special moments like these that make all the difference for our incredible kids.”
Fournette, who is currently a free agent, was a star running back at Louisiana State University before spending three seasons each with the Jacksonville Jaguars and the Buccaneers.