For 13 NFL seasons, Brandon Marshall was known for his record-breaking pass-catching ability. Now, he’s catching for a cause, as he gives back to healthcare workers on the front lines of the COVID-19 pandemic.
A fourth-round draft pick out of UCF in 2006, Marshall played for seven teams over the course of his NFL career, including the Denver Broncos, Miami Dolphins and Chicago Bears, racking up over 12,000 yards and 83 touchdowns, according to NFL.com.
Since Marshall’s last stint in the NFL in 2018 for the New Orleans Saints, Marshall said he began his focusing on his off the field legacy, founding his own gym and wellness brand, House of Athlete, in Weston.
When the coronavirus pandemic forced the closure of House of Athlete, Marshall said he began thinking of alternative ways to give back and make a positive impact on his community.
"[To] raise over $50,000 to serve local hospitals, myself, Jeff and his team started the fund and the community rally and to continue this local initiative I'm excited about it," Marshall said during a Zoom call with NSM Today.
According to the Fuel the Frontlines website, the organization’s mission is to preserve the well-being of healthcare workers by giving them the support they need to continue to care for and provide aid to the public during this fight against COVID-19.
Marshall said the goal is to deliver nutritious meals prepared by Raw Juice, food trucks provided by House of Athlete, and recovery equipment provided by Theragun and Recovery Pump to hospitals so that healthcare workers have an opportunity to “recover like athletes.”
“We have workers who are out 12, 13, 14, 15 hours a day. Nutrition is key. At the end of the day having all the ventilators, masks in the world means nothing if caregivers aren’t healthy,” Marshall said. “We need to take care of our caregivers. We need them to refuel and recover every single day like they [are] professional athletes, because we still have months to fight this thing that we are calling a beast.”
Along with staff members from House of Athlete, Marshall said he visits hospitals in South Florida each week to serve and thank those who are sacrificing their time and lives to fight the coronavirus.
Maddie Cummings, the General Manager of the Weston Raw Juice location, said she is one of the donors who helps organize the meals for Marshall’s trips to the hospital. The meals include açai bowls, salad fusions and organic juice smoothies known as “wellness shots,” Cummings said.
“Some workers are limited to what is in the hospitals, eating snacks or getting meals that lower energy and aren’t healthy,” Cummings said. “We feel that this is a healthy alternative for the front-line staff to get a good source of energy while working for long hours in the day.”
In addition to partnering with local businesses, Marshall said he is also calling on fellow peers in the athletic community with the goal of 100 athletes reaching 100 U.S. hospitals.
Some of those serving as ambassadors for Fuel the Frontlines include former Knight’s cornerback AJ Bouye and former Orlando Magic center Shaquille O’Neal, according to the website.
Orlando Pride stars Ali Krieger and Ashlyn Harris, who are also part of the initiative, are teaming up locally with Orlando Health, Marshall said.
Marshall also said that Fuel the Frontlines is, courtesy of House of Athlete, sending out supplements and providing resources like recovery rooms and mental health check-ups for nurses and doctors across the country to rest, reset and recover.
Ellie Tavaris, an executive assistant at Memorial Hospital Pembroke, said she is grateful for the service and feels support on the frontlines of fighting COVID-19.
“It’s good to know that they care,” Tavaris said. “We are here day in and day out taking care of all our patients. To get this donation from a local business, it was a wonderful experience and we do appreciate that.”
According to the PLEDGE IT website, Marshall’s campaign has collected over $220,000 of its $2 million goal to provide mental, physical and emotional support for hospital staff.
Marshall said he has also raised money through his non-profit organization Project 375 and was recently part of the NFL Draft tele-a-thon to raise money for a COVID-19 cure.
The former second-team All-Conference USA wide-out will continue to provide support to frontline workers with the hope that everyone realizes the importance of health in all aspects.
“There’s never been a time that the entire world has been focused on health. We are more health conscious than ever for obvious reasons,” Marshall said. “I just pray that this is a time that we realize the importance of our health; holistically, mentally, physically and emotionally. I hope everyone remembers and takes away from this time is how important our health is.”