‘This is One Stadium that Cannot Stay Empty’ Athletes and Leaders Unite to ‘Fill The Stadium’ to Support Children in Poverty Through the Pandemic
Compassion International Bringing 70K Children Urgently Needed Support
COLORADO SPRINGS, COLO.—The year 2020 has been unlike any other due to the powerful coronavirus and its effect on those in need. But the virus cannot stop a determined community of athletes and influencers from advocating for the needs of children living in desperate poverty around the globe.
Fill The Stadium is an urgent effort with a unique goal. It seeks to help 70,000 children and their families through the critical next 12 months—roughly the same number of “seats” that typically occupy most pro-football stadiums in America. Fill The Stadium encourages those who would normally spend money to attend a pro-football game this year—but who cannot because of COVID-19—to choose instead to support struggling children who need essential food and medical care.
The Fill The Stadium lead team consists of standout professional athletes, business leaders, and pastors—and already they’ve attracted a strong assist to their God-focused cause. Steve Stenstrom is president of Pro Athletes Outreach—and as a former NFL quarterback, he knows all about getting the ball over the line for a winning purpose. Santiago “Jimmy” Mellado is CEO and president of Compassion International, a Christ-centered, church-driven ministry dedicated to releasing children from poverty in Jesus’ name. Together, they seek to Fill The Stadium.
Says Stenstrom, “Almost every stadium is sitting empty right now. This is one stadium that cannot stay empty. Now, we watch pro athletes, other couples and people all across the nation stepping up to the plate saying ‘Let’s all bring our loaves and fishes together. Let’s offer them back to Jesus. Let’s ask Him, pray to Him to multiply them according to His plans and purposes.’”
Fill The Stadium leaders note that $500—approximately the same amount most Americans would spend on a pro-football game day for tickets, meals, travel, and extras—will help provide one year of food, nutritional supplements, hygiene essentials, and COVID-19 medical screenings for a child in crisis. So far, the group has “filled” over 16,000 seats—well on their way to the goal of helping 70,000 children.
“We know the impacts of COVID-19 are being felt most severely by those living in poverty. And the devastation is growing as the virus continues to hit the developing world in urban, overpopulated areas and regions with limited access to testing and treatment,” says Mellado. “As these children wait for loving sponsors, it’s our priority to provide for their critical needs through the Fill The Stadium initiative.”
Already signed on for key roles in the Fill The Stadium effort are such standout professional athletes as Dakota Dozier of the Minnesota Vikings; Alyssa Naeher of the U.S. Women’s National Soccer Team; Nick Foles, professional football MVP quarterback; Chris Davis, first baseman of the Baltimore Orioles; Devin and Jason McCourty, defensive backs of New England; Nate Solder of the New York Giants and many others. These elite athletes understand that their leadership and participation can help bring much-needed attention to this worthy cause.
“So many of my pro athlete friends have reached out to ask, ‘how can we help?’” says Stenstrom. “I’ll tell you, Fill The Stadium is the best way the professional, athletic community can use our leadership. We have a level of influence that can mobilize people to take care of these 70,000 kids.”
In this year of coronavirus, “We are all experiencing the reality of empty stadiums,” says the Fill The Stadium team. It is why this effort so desperately needs caring, prayerful and thoughtful Americans to join in.