J.T. Thomas Brings His Foundation to Morgantown - WVU Football, WVU Basketball, News - Mountaineer Sports

J.T. Thomas Brings His Foundation to Morgantown


A simple question made its way to the campus of West Virginia University over the weekend. After weeks on the road, former Mountaineer linebacker J.T. Thomas was back at his alma mater to ask WVU fans and Morgantown residents alike, "Are you ready?"

The Ready Ready Road Trip, as Thomas calls it, was an opportunity for he and some friends and family to raise awareness and dollars for the newly formed J.T. Thomas Foundation.

Now a member of the Chicago Bears, Thomas began the trip in his hometown of Ft. Lauderdale, Fla., and has made stops along the eastern part of the country spreading the word about a variety of causes that have come to mean the world to him.

Much of his message centered around the debilitating disease of epilepsy, which he first became interested in researching when he met Anthony Granberry, a 14-year-old Chicago fan whom Thomas took with him to the Super Bowl in Indianapolis.

In Morgantown, Thomas and some fellow former WVU players paid a visit to the Children's Hospital. Just across the parking lot from the stadium where they starred as collegiate athletes, Mountaineers are no strangers to the Children's Hospital.

"We always paid visits to the Children's Hospital and I wanted to make it my business to come back by the hospital today and see the kids, give them a little bit of support, let them know they're not here by themselves," said Thomas.

Along with Anthony Leonard and Jarrett Brown, who both played alongside Thomas in his years at West Virginia, the Ready Ready Crew did its best to brighten the days of those children who have the misfortune of spending theirs in the hospital.

"I had the opportunity to come visit throughout my college career here, but today was special just being with J.T., not just here, but across the country with J.T. these past couple weeks to raise awareness for epilepsy and stuff like that," says Leonard. "It's just great to be here and be able to give back to a community that supported us."

Thomas says the purpose of his foundation is to promote leadership, education, youth sports and raise awareness to different childhood disabilities. In reality, his hope is that he can use his own resources to aid other causes that are important to the children he encounters on a daily basis.

"I just want the foundation to be flexible enough to be able to give back in every different aspect, whether you want to do a youth camp or whether you want to go to a school and do a book reading or whatever it may be, we want to build something that would allow me to do all the things that I want to be able to do to in the community to give back to the kids," he says.

Thomas gained notoriety nationwide for his kindness and generosity when he took a Morgantown girl who suffers from spina bifida to her junior high prom. His love and concern for those who are less fortunate has been with him his entire life, for so long that he honestly can't remember exactly where it began.

"I don't know. Maybe it's because my younger brother, Jared, he's dealing with autism. That's what kind of jump-started me when it comes to special needs and special needs children," says Thomas. "Maybe it's that or maybe it's the fact that I was raised by my mom in a very loving family and we always gave back, so now this is just a threshold for people to help me continue to give back.

"We're a foundation that helps give to foundations, so I think it has the chance to be really big and touch as many lives as possible."

On Saturday, Thomas was joined by even more former WVU teammates at a local Buffalo Wild Wings restaurant for a fundraiser opportunity. It's clear that his friends have become just as motivated to help in anyway they can just as much as Thomas has been from the start.

"Kids are so genuine. They're loving, they're caring," says Brown. "We want to support them while they're young. If you get in a kid's life and give them this experience when they're young, they'll remember it for the rest of their life."

Thomas asks anyone who is interested in helping his foundation to get more information from www.JTThomasFoundation.org or contact him via Twitter (@RealJT3).

"I just want people to know that this is a great foundation and we'll be able to affect a lot of kids. It's all about the kids," says Thomas. "We want to be able to give back as much as we can. Contact us, we want to help you. The more people we are able to touch, the bigger this thing can be."

Thomas will make one more stop in the nation's capital to deliver the money he raised in Morgantown to the Epilepsy Foundation before returning home to Florida.

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