TALLAHASSEE, Fla.(WTXL) — Low-income families in Leon County are now getting assistance staying connected during the COVID-19 pandemic with help from former NFL star and Tallahassee native William Gay.
Before playing in the National Football League as a defensive back for more than a decade, Gay grew up in Tallahassee and graduated from James S. Rickards High School.
As the COVID-19 pandemic forces many families to stay at home for work and school, Gay is helping out by making a $7,500 donation to the Foundation for Leon County Schools (FLCS) to pay for home internet service for families from Tallahassee Southside area schools through Comcast’s Internet Essentials program.
Comcast is matching his contribution and the combined $15,000 donation will pay for 10 months of Internet Essentials service for 150 local families.
“When the COVID-19 shutdowns started and schools had to close, I thought of all the kids that don’t have the Internet at home and who already struggle every day because of the tough circumstances they are growing up with,” said Gay. “These children and their families are disconnected from the valuable resources of the Internet that will help them succeed in school and in life. With reliable home internet service from a provider like Comcast, they can get fully connected and help level the playing field.”
In addition to his donation, Gay is also issuing a challenge to encourage other current and former professional athletes to make similar donations to nonprofit and community-based organizations to help bridge the digital divide for families in need of internet service at home.
Anyone who is interested can email IEGetConnectedChallenge@comcast.com for more information.
In response to the COVID-19 pandemic, Comcast is offering the first 2 months, or 60 days, of service for free to new Internet Essentials customers who sign up through the end of the year.
This partnership is also a part of the FLCS’s recently launched Internet For All (IFA) fundraising campaign.
Eric Clarke, the executive director of the foundation, says they are grateful for the donations and they are working to secure more funds to help students during the pandemic.
"We understand that once these families get the internet, we're probably gonna have to be able to provide it for them until they are able to be self-sufficient," said Clarke.