Denzel Ward has used his platform to make a difference outside the realm of football since the Browns drafted him fourth overall in 2018, and the Nordonia High School graduate will continue to do so during the COVID-19 pandemic.
Ward will pay a big expense for 21 people who are out of work due to the global health crisis, his Make Them Know Your Name foundation announced Wednesday. The campaign is targeting service workers and small business owners.
"Whether that’s rent or mortgage or just groceries for your family, I want someone to breathe a little easier knowing that’s taken care of this month," Ward said in a news release.
Ward and his team will review applications and stories submitted through the Make Them Know Your Name foundation's website (www.MTKYN.org) and select 21 recipients. Ward’s jersey number is 21.
"It’s important to me that people know they’re not alone in this," said Ward, who played cornerback for Ohio State before making the Pro Bowl as a Browns rookie. "We’re all in this together. That’s the Ohio way.
"It’s unique for me because the community I’m fortunate enough to play for is the community that helped raise me my entire life. So to help your neighbors in a time when they might be struggling is just a no-brainer."
Ward and his family launched the Make Them Know Your Name foundation last year. Its mission is to help prevent heart-related fatalities through awareness and education. Ward's father, Paul, died of cardiac arrest in a spin class on May 2, 2016, at the age of 46. "Make them know your name" is a quote Paul Ward often shared with his sons when he would give them advice about sports and life.