It was an exciting evening for supporters of LEAP Foundation DC as they gathered with mentees for the annual tree trimming ceremony on Sunday, December 15. Held a week before the organization’s yearly Toy Drive, NFL player Ifeanyi “Mo” Momah was the evening’s honored guest, who was able to connect with LEAP scholars, sharing his encouragement and inspiration.
“My favorite experience every year is to put up the Christmas tree with parents and students of LEAP Foundation DC,” said Dr. Clayton Lawrence, President and CEO. “Having Mo in attendance to provide encouragement to our young men, and his example in excelling in academics while pursuing a career in professional sports will be treasured forever.”
It was a chance meeting that brought Dr. Lawrence and Momah together, but the duo was immediately able to connect over their similarities, and experiences in philanthropy and youth mentorship.
The parents of Dr. Lawrence immigrated from Trinidad, while Momah’s came to the United States from Nigeria. The two share the same hometown, a commitment to supporting today’s disadvantaged youth and a desire to give back.
Currently a free agent, Momah played college football at Boston College before being signed by the Philadelphia Eagles, Cleveland Browns, Detroit Lions and most recently playing tight end for the Arizona Cardinals.
“I was immediately intrigued by Mo’s enthusiasm for athleticism and how he has used his position as a pro athlete to reach youth,” Dr. Lawrence said. “His own commitment to giving back to the community led me to extend an invitation to get to know our organization a bit better and spend some time with our youth mentees. He generously agreed to come to meet and talk with the students. It was an unforgettable experience for our students.”
The decorating of the tree, led by Deborah Greene and Patrick Akers, both parent representatives of the LEAP Foundation DC Advisory Committee, is a tradition that allows supporters and students to come together in festive anticipation of the organization’s Toy Drive, this year in its 11th year. The annual affair allows the Foundation’s generous supporters to offer gifts to children and families who otherwise would not experience Christmas.
“This is our favorite time of year at LEAP Foundation DC,” Dr. Lawrence said. “The Toy Drive is an incredible way to continue our mission to provide for our community. We were honored to have Mo join us in our kick-off celebration.”