Former defensive end Jimmy Wilkerson, who played for the Chiefs from 2003 to 2007 and is currently in the midst of his one-year Chiefs Ambassador apprenticeship, has been involved with Operation Breakthrough for the past six years.
His adoration for the organization dates back to his playing days.
"I really fell in love with it when I was playing under coach Dick Vermeil and his wife, Carol," Wilkerson said. "Just to see the things that the children have gone through and how it relates to my past as a kid made me connect with that charity event more so than other events."
According to its website, Operation Breakthrough is one of the largest single-site early education childcare and social services facilities in the state of Missouri. Its mission is to help children who are living in poverty develop to their fullest potential by providing them a safe, loving and educational environment.
Along with three other Chiefs Ambassador apprentices, the Chiefs Community Caring Team and K.C. Wolf, Wilkerson visited Skate City in Overland Park Friday afternoon to meet, play and skate with 55 children in the Operation Breakthrough program.
Wilkerson explained that the organization's goals mean more to him because of his own upbringing.
"I've gone through some things," he explained. "Like drugs, seeing a lot of negative activities out in the streets. Coming from a small school and small town and not knowing when you were going to get your next meal or if you didn't have new clothes.
"Obviously, it's not to the certain extent that some of these kids are going through right now, but in my past years of growing up, I can relate to some of the things that they've gone through."
Partly for that reason, Wilkerson also brought his three boys, Tyson, 10, Maddox, 8, and Jax, 5, to the event.
"I just wanted them to get an understanding of where these kids are coming from and how fortunate my kids are to have the things that they have," he said. "My oldest son (Tyson), he was helping kids up when they fell down, which is something that is really good."
Former Chiefs defensive back Mark Collins, who like Wilkerson is a Chiefs Ambassador apprentice, explained that their work has the potential to go a long way for the children.
"It can mean a lot," he said. "Some of these kids have single parents who are maybe not of the most economically-sound situations, but that should not deter you from thinking about their future.
"If I can help in that and help these kids to where they want to be, that's what I try to do."