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Steve Weatherford Tries to Help Others 'Kick' Away the Blues

Yahoo Contributor Network

There are days when New York Giants' punter Steve Weatherford feels the emptiness, especially considering that a year ago this week, he and his teammates were getting ready to play in the Super Bowl.

But rather than dwell on what could have been, Weatherford has not only begun his legendary weight and conditioning training program to get ready for 2013, he's also been spending his downtime exploring ways to make the lives of those who have experienced misfortune a little brighter.

"It's been tough--I'm not going to lie," Weatherford said of the Giants' season ending without a playoff berth. "But there are a lot of people out there in our area whose lives have been disrupted by Hurricane Sandy and other tragedies that deserve to have smiles on their faces, so I'm trying to do my part to give something back to them."

That 'something' has consisted of a personal crusade filled with numerous appearances and fund-raising efforts as part of his "Kicks for Kids" charity, an initiative he started several years ago when he used to collect extra athletic footwear from teammates to donate to youth organizations.

Since those early days, Weatherford has joined forces with Steiner Sports, who helps him auction off autographed footwear to raise money to support his charity's goal to expand its reach.

That effort, combined with his increased visibility due to the Giants' Super Bowl championship last year, has enabled the 30-year-old punter to reach out to more families who have fallen on hard times.

"We had 30 kids whose families lost their homes because of Hurricane Sandy, and they were sleeping in shelters, so we gave them $400 to buy Christmas presents for themselves and their families," Weatherford said of one of his favorite events held every December.

"It was a really a great experience because a lot of those kids spent the majority of their money on their families rather than themselves," he added. "One girl even spent all of her money on her family instead of getting something for herself, which was pretty cool."

Weatherford has also made several trips to the Jersey Shore since Hurricane Sandy unleashed devastation and destruction on many seaside homes and landmarks. He has organized teammates and volunteers to help hand out food and supplies for those in need, and has spent hours with the people who are trying to rebuild their lives.

Weatherford, who keeps fans abreast of his activities via Twitter, Instagram, and Facebook, is also planning a special outing to a New York Yankees game this spring for the students of Sandy Hook Elementary in Newton, Conn., who were guests of the Giants organization at their regular season finale on Dec. 30, 2012.

If all those activities weren't enough to keep the veteran punter busy, on Super Bowl Sunday he'll be a guest bartender at The Parlour Midtown, located at 247 West 30th Street in New York City, with all proceeds from his appearance going toward his charity.

"It's a lot of work, but it makes you feel pretty good to see the kids smiling," he said. "Ever since the Super Bowl, a lot of opportunities have opened up for me, and I'm doing my best to take advantage of them to make life good for others."

Patricia Traina is a New Jersey-based sportswriter who has covered the New York Giants for more than 15 seasons for Inside Football. She is also a member of the Professional Football Writers of America.

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