EDEN PRAIRIE, Minn. — Few NFL players are as charitable and perhaps none display the passion for helping others quite like Minnesota Vikings linebacker Chad Greenway.
Greenway, 30, enters his eighth season with the Vikings and his list of accomplishments on the field almost equally rival with those of it. Five years ago the former Iowa All-American donated $100,000 to a Sioux Falls hospital to help children's cancer patients. In 2008, he persuaded Vikings owner Zygi Wilf to fly to Iowa City and donate $30,000 for flood recovery efforts.
Greenway also has donated funds for a new track in Mount Vernon, S.D., hosts an annual 5K on Father's Day was named the team's winner of the Walter Payton Award in 2011 for his charitable efforts.
Giving back comes naturally to Greenway, and he takes his charity work seriously.
"I just think when you’re given this platform, this voice, I just think it’s important to be able to use it for good," Greenway said Tuesday at Minnesota Vikings' mini-camp. "There’s so many bad examples to kids and our youth these days that you want to be setting a good example in every way, whether it would be how I handle my personal life at home with my wife and children or how I handle life in the media, how I handle my charity work. It all sort of bonds together and becomes one thing."
Greenway has his own charitable organization -- "Lead The Way Foundation" -- which has three primary programs. One is the "TendHer Heart Luncheon," which honors mothers with critically ill children. Greenway's "Field of Dreams" helps families with sick children fulfill sports fantasies and vacations. The other, "Chad's Locker," gives computers, video game systems and movies to families during a hospital stay.
He also works with his teammates' charities and actively participates in Iowa's "America Needs Farmers" program. He sports Iowa's black "ANF" shirt and when he conducts interviews, he frequently brings up the topic with no introduction.
"I grew up on a farm in South Dakota and going to the University of Iowa so the tie is pretty natural for me," Greenway said. "They’re doing great things, and I think the biggest thing is just the awareness of what farmers do, how much they help us and how much they help everybody. Really when you look for food, you look for that next bite to eat and appreciate the man who put it there, what he stands for and for me, farmers are the backbone of America and I think that’s what we need to keep in mind."
Some players need probing to donate time and resources to charity work. For Greenway, it's easy.
"I try to be a good example for everybody," he said, "try to lead by the example my parents gave to me and just try to make everybody from South Dakota and Iowa proud that I was a part of those states and part of the program at Iowa."