Madieu Williams was born in Sierra Leone, a war ravaged nation which endured 10 years of civil war. Their infrastructure was destroyed, and more than half of its citizens live on about one dollar per day. Blessed by opportunity, Williams is a star football player now, number twenty on the Minnesota Vikings, but never far from his roots.

Williams went back to visit a school he built, in a poor community in Sierra Leone where he handed out basic school supplies because most classes often don’t have books. In this small country, most students never finish grade school, sometimes never make it past the age of five .

“I see a lot of myself in these children, and give them an opportunity, and the sky is the limit,” says Williams. On his trip, he brought volunteers from a group called Healing Hands, and a friend and fellow football player, D’Qwell Jackson. “At the end of the day, I have a lot of interests outside football,” he continues.

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WIlliams left Sierra Leone for the United States when he was nine. He says his family, especially his mother, who was a nurse and whom he lost at just 45, taught him compassion. He named his school for her. “To keep her memory alive, I know that’s something she would have wanted,” says Williams. He further honored her by giving two million dollars to the University of Maryland, his alma mater. “The Madieu Williams Center for Global Health honors my mother’s wishes to make a lasting change,” he continues.

Inspired by Williams, and moved by the suffering, friend and Cleveland Browns Linebacker D’Qwell Jackson makes a promise to a little girl, “I’m going to make it my personal business when I get back to make sure that girl has an education, and that’s my word,” he says. This is essentially the same promise Madieu Williams has made to the children of Sierra Leone.