TALLAHASSEE, Fla. – DeCalon Brooks is continuing his father’s legacy, and in more ways than one.
Already a standout linebacker on Florida State’s defense, Brooks, the son of FSU legend and Pro Football Hall-of-Famer Derrick Brooks, displayed his passion for charity and community service on Saturday during FSU’s annual “Lift for Life” event at the Dunlap Practice Facility.
Along with his cousin, FSU receiver Keyshawn Helton, Brooks spearheaded this year’s Lift for Life, which is put on in conjunction with Uplifting Athletes, a national organization that works with student-athletes to raise funds for the fight against rare diseases.
Former tight end Kevin Haplea founded FSU’s chapter of Uplifting Athletes, and the organization has raised nearly $45,000 in the last few years.
“This is something I’m really passionate about doing,” Brooks said.
Which makes sense, given that he grew up watching the example of one of pro sports’ most beloved philanthropists.
Derrick Brooks, an All-American and 1993 national champion at Florida State, has served the Tampa community for more than 20 years through his Brooks’ Bunch and Derrick Brooks Charities organizations. And in 2000, Brooks was named the Walter Payton NFL Man of the Year.
He is one of three former Seminoles to earn that honor (Warrick Dunn, Anquan Boldin).
“My dad, he’s really passionate about giving back to people in his community,” Brooks said. “Especially kids and the educational system.
“So really, what I learned from him is that there’s always something that’s bigger than football and bigger than you.”
With their cause in the back of their minds, dozens of Brooks’ teammates gathered on Saturday morning for about 90 minutes of tire-flipping, weight-lifting and golf-cart pushing.
There was even one drill that involved blindfolds and tackling dummies.
The event pitted two blind-folded players against one another, and they were forced to listen to their teammates in order to first find the dummy and then find their opposition.
The first player to swing the dummy and make contact with his opponent would win.
— FSU Football (@FSUFootball) July 13, 2019
“It was just a fun event, man,” Helton said. “Our teammates were learning verbal communication. You can’t see anything, so other teammates have to tell them where the other person is. And them listening and them comprehending what we’re saying.”
Most players wore smiles throughout the morning, but that doesn’t mean the competition wasn’t fierce.
As he stepped up to the oversized tire, Helton was told that the day’s record was 21 flips.
Helton got 22, only to be outdone a few moments later by Jaiden Lars-Woodbey.
“It was 22 and I got 25,” Lars-Woodbey said. “I’m a competitor. So I asked what the record was and I went for it.”
Elsewhere, the Seminoles engaged in a battle of wills at the dumbbell hold station, where players went one-on-one, holding a 100-pound weight in each hand. The first man to drop his weight lost the round.
“It was tough,” Lars-Woodbey said.
“You’re competing with someone that’s right in front of you,” Helton said. “You’re trying to beat him.”
While their immediate earnings weren’t yet available, the Seminoles set a goal to earn $20,000 on Saturday – whether through online donations or pledges tied to the day’s results.
Donations are accepted for another week and can be made here.
Regardless of the final total, Brooks left the event on Saturday proud of what he and his teammates achieved. And proud of the fact that, on a weekend morning in mid-July, around 60 of his teammates showed up to support a non-mandatory event
“It means a lot,” he said. “Guys just coming in and wanting to come out here and compete and raise money for the rare disease community, rare disease research. It really shows much guys care.”