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Bronco Mendenhall brings ‘Thursday Heroes’ program to UNM

ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. (KRQE) – First-year UNM head football coach Bronco Mendenhall is bringing a new tradition to the Lobo football team. Every Thursday through the spring and fall camp, the Lobos will honor a local “hero” and try to make a positive impact on an individual going through health concerns and hard times.

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Every Thursday, the Lobos will welcome somebody new to practice to give them a day in the life of a UNM football player. The practice concludes with gifts from the team consisting of photos, autographs, and game tickets.

Mendenhall has previously hosted Thursday Heroes at his other jobs but felt it was important to bring the tradition to UNM. Originally, it began as a way to teach his sons the importance of giving back to the community and how fortunate they were, and over the years, the positive impact made is still felt.

“What we’ve found is just a a break in the day for somebody who is going to struggles is meaningful,” Mendenhall said. “For those families to come and just have a routine break from either hospital or doctor visits, or anything else, my wife and I are just glad to bring that here.”

Since arriving in Albuquerque, Mendenhall’s assistant, Summer Tujague, has been connecting with local health providers to build a network throughout the city. Doctors, administrators and others then submit nominations for potential heroes who could use a little help.

The football players have also started to embrace the new Thursday Heroes program as the team is told the story of every week’s hero. It’s a reminder for them that they have a platform that goes beyond football.

“Whether their side won the day or lost the day or however they played, they’re learning quickly to shift gears and think of someone else,” said Mendenhall. “That’s a powerful thing for adults and for society.”

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