Saints big man has a big heart, helps give students 400 backpacks


New Orleans Saints defensive end Cam Jordan takes his day off to visit students at KIPP Leadership Academy on September 3, 2019. Jordan and other organizations gave the school 400 backpacks and $10,000 to help with school activities. Photo credit: Andres Fuentes

Andres Fuentes

Eighth grader Warlanden was excited for the KIPP Leadership Academy spirit day. It wasn’t for the DJ spinning bounce music, dancing with his friends or winning spirit points. Instead, the young Joe Brown Spartans running back wanted to know who the special guest was.

What Warlanden didn’t know was that the surprise was bigger than he expected.

Standing at 6’4 and 287 pounds, New Orleans Saints four-time Pro Bowler Cam Jordan stepped onto the gym floor to a crowd of screaming elementary schoolers with a smile bigger than theirs.

“When you’re talking about the energy they give off, that’s the positive vibes that I’m always talking about,” Jordan said.

Instead of taking his off day to relax and unwind, Jordan makes it his goal to give back to the community that fills the Superdome every game day.

“It’s always about reaching out and trying to learn more about my city,” he said. “As far as I can remember, I’ve always given up my Tuesdays to try and get out to communities, to get out to different elementary schools, different high schools.”

Warlanden was excited to see one of his sports idols but also grateful for what Jordan helped provide for him and his 399 classmates.

“I’ve been watching Cam Jordan since I was four years old,” he said. “It’s a great honor (to meet him) before I leave from 8th grade.”

Together with Dreambuilders Foundation, United Healthcare and New Orleans Saints, students in kindergarten through eighth grade were handed a free backpack filled with school and hygiene supplies ahead of the busy school year.

“Its definitely going to be a moment they remember for a lifetime,” school leader Amber Mills said. “It was a wonderful experience for our students.”

But the charity did not stop there. The school was awarded a $10,000 check to help teach and develop the next generation.

“It’s important to provide students with the supplies they need to start school the right way,” United Healthcare executive director Christine O’Brien said.

Both the students and the school staff were grateful for the contributions from all three agencies.

“We are dedicated to developing leadership in our students,” Mills said. “(The check will be) providing our students with experiences outside of the classroom to really show them what leadership looks like in the real world.”

School leaders plan on using the money to help fund a trip to Washington D.C. this year. But it’s the dancing, football drills and time spent with Jordan that the students are still in awe about.

“It’s amazing and it’s a good thing that they helped out the less fortunate,” seventh grader Semhaj said. “Some people probably didn’t have enough school supplies and this helped out.”

The day put smiles on everyone’s faces in the KIPP Academy gym, from the students in the bleachers to the head donors.

“The kids were super excited,” O’Brien said. “If this is the sign of our future, I know that our future is very bright with the students we have here today.”

And as for Warlanden, he now can say he met one of his role models and has the confidence to pursue his dream.

He said, “I want to be in the NFL myself. I want to be an NFL running back.”