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Titan Up for Tots: Giving babies a healthy start

Saint Thomas Sports Park was abuzz with activity on June 3.

Running off the practice field, quarterback Marcus Mariota, tight end Delanie Walker and every seasoned player and rookie in between joined United Way to assemble bags of diapers, wipes, onesies and burp cloths to give to 3,500 new mothers in need.

For the fifth year, the Tennessee Titans and United Way presented Titan Up for Tots, which has supplied 10,000 mothers with helpful items and resources to give their babies a healthy start to life.

The numbers are staggering: One in three families struggles to pay for diapers, which can cost up to $1,000 per year per child.

And because families can’t use food stamps for these purchases—they’re classified as “disallowed purchases”—many parents are often forced to re-use disposable diapers, putting a baby’s health and mental and emotional well-being in severe jeopardy. But the burden doesn’t stop there. Without diapers, babies aren’t able to go to daycare or take part in early childhood education, often falling behind their peers. And without child care, many parents aren’t able to go to work or continue their education, which perpetuates the cycle of poverty across generations.

Titan Up for Tots is a way for players to break from huddles, tackles and fumbles and to provide some relief to moms and babies.

For defensive lineman Jurrell Casey, this year’s event hits even closer to home. Eight months ago, he and his wife Ryann welcomed their first child, a baby boy.

“This is a blessing to be a part of this,” Casey said. “It is different for you—you go out there crashing heads [in practice], going at it on the field, getting prepared for the season. And then you come in here … and do something that is helpful for the community.”

Casey was recently named Titans' recipient of the Walter Payton Man of the Year Award. As part of his nomination, the NFL Foundation presented Casey with $50,000 for his nonprofit The Casey Fund, which supports community-based organizations that address needs of at-risk youth as well as formerly incarcerated individuals.

The players, coaching staff and front office team know the importance of giving back and taking care of our neighbors.

“One of the things I am most proud of is when we are out in the community and we actually see kids in the onesies or parents with the bags,” said Titans Senior Director of Community Relations Tina Tuggle. “So we know we are making an impact.”

Every child deserves a healthy start to life, and United Way is honored to partner with the Titans each year to address such a critical need in our community.

Click here to see photos from the event.