Jaguars DT Malik Jackson hasn't lost a step in his commitment to his local community, even in the offseason. The team's Walter Payton Man of the Year nominee in 2017 hosted a football camp for local kids from the First Coast military community on June 6 at the Dream Finders Home Flex Field at Daily's Place.
"You see someone walking down the street in need and it's up to you whether you drive past them or you stop and help them," said Jackson. "If I can show one kid in here how to help somebody in need, that will trickle down and hopefully we can start being a world that helps each other."
Jackson partnered with St. Michael's Soldiers, Survivor Outreach Services (SOS) and the Florida National Guard Child and Youth Program, which selected more than 100 military and Gold Star children to participate in the event. Lori Culberson, SOS coordinator at Camp Blanding, helped to identify the children participating and works daily with the families of the fallen.
"We're trying to teach these kids that their loved one paid the ultimate sacrifice for this country and this country is always going to give back to you" said Culberson. "They were giving to this country, and we want them to see the folks in this community giving back too."
All kids received a one-of-a-kind camp t-shirt, dinner and spent two hours learning football techniques from some of the NFL's best. The kids in attendance got an extra treat when more than a dozen Jaguars players joined in to coach the football drills, including QB Blake Bortles, DE Calais Campbell, WR Marqise Lee, WR Keelan Cole, DT Taven Bryan, CB Tyler Patmon, DT Abry Jones, S Don Carey, DT Eli Ankou, and DE Dawuane Smoot.
Jackson was touched by his teammates' participation.
"It's awesome. I just told the guys I'm running a camp for military kids, and they all stood up and wanted to come," said Jackson. "Guys that want to come out here on their day off at 6 p.m. when they could easily be sitting at home with their significant other or doing something that they want to do, it's very humbling, and I appreciate them so much. I'll make sure to say thank you and give them a hug, because it truly means a lot to me and to these kids."
Having joined the Jaguars as a free agent in 2016, Jackson already has a long history of supporting the military, especially in the Jacksonville community through his own foundation, Malik's Gifts. This past year, he committed $5,000 to Jacksonville's Five Star Veterans Center and hosted a dinner for 50 honorees on Gold Star Wives Day. In addition, Jackson planned a private movie screening for 150 military children and their families during Salute to Service week.
"Malik practices what he preaches," said Culberson, who has worked with Malik on previous events. "He reaches out to these kids and speaks to them in a unique way. They look up to him. He's so humble about it. He's doing it because he wants to serve a purpose here."