Making every play count

Minkah Fitzpatrick loves playing football.

But there is something else he loves.

Helping others.

And now, he can combine the two.

Fitzpatrick recently launched a campaign through his Unshackled Foundation to benefit foster children served by KidsVoice, an agency in Allegheny County that advocates for abused and neglected children.

"I don't think a lot of people have an understanding of the process these kids go through," said Fitzpatrick. "They go from family to family, or from home to home. They never really get to develop the right way. They never get to have a good relationship with a father or mother figure. It's tough. The kids that come out of this system are scarred and have trauma from it because it's tough to go through. Raising awareness for this situation is something I wanted to do and something I can give people more of an understanding of what is going on."

Fitzpatrick is doing more than raising awareness. He is raising funds to help provide services for the kids. Fitzpatrick is kicking the campaign off by pledging $39 for every tackle he has this season and every turnover the team creates.

"I think it's an interesting way to give back," said Fitzpatrick. "It's something that's determined by my play and statistics and that interested me. And with KidsVoice, I worked with them before, and they do a lot of good stuff around the community in Pittsburgh. They do a lot to help foster kids, foster families. If I have an opportunity to help them out, why not.

"It combines two parts of my life I enjoy and am passionate about," said Fitzpatrick. "I get to make a play, and when I do, I am helping somebody else. You are playing for a bigger purpose."

While Fitzpatrick is pledging his own funds, he is encouraging fans to get involved as well and make a pledge. With different pledge levels available, fans who donate have the opportunity to receive gifts based on their pledge, which range from a signed photo, to a signed mini helmet, and even and two tickets to Fitzpatrick's Champions Reception where they will meet him and get a signed jersey.

"It's always fun when the fans are involved," said Fitzpatrick. "We have great fans. Their involvement shows they care about this issue too."

Donations will go to Fitzpatrick's Unshackled Foundation, which supports KidsVoice. It's something he founded with his family as a way to help others.

"The main reason I wanted to start it is because I don't play football just for the money and fame," said Fitzpatrick. "I play because I love it, and there is so much opportunity to help out. That is why I created the foundation. It's our outreach, my family and I, to be able to help and give back."

Individuals interested in making a pledge to the campaign can visit the MInkah Pledge Page.

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