The Kansas City Chiefs offensive linemen participated in the 15thAnnual Private Cellar Wine Tasting & Auction event to support First Downs for Down Syndrome (FDFDS) Thursday night.
FDFDS is a unique organization that strives to support the 1,500 families in the Kansas City area caring for a loved one with Down syndrome. With the help of FDFDS, these families have local access to vital medical, emotional, and educational support services.
"We are a parent-to-parent, womb-to-tomb organization," Amy Stoll, Down Syndrome Guild Chief Development Officer, shared.
Stoll explained they are with a family through the whole life of that person whether they're a baby, going to school, heading off to college, helping them get jobs to even when they're in their 50s looking for an apartment to live in.
The Chiefs organization and First Downs for Down Syndrome have formed a long lasting partnership. FDDS has raised nearly $9.0 million for the Down Syndrome Community with the help of the Chiefs since 1992
And the Chiefs' O-line has been supporting FDFDS since its inception in 1992.
"I think Will Shields was one of the first guys to do it and ever since then it's been in the offensive line family to say," Chiefs offensive lineman Mitch Morse said. "It's very cool to come out with your guys outside of a football environment and be productive and active in the community."
The event has raised over $1.5 million in donations the past 14 years for the Kansas City Down syndrome community.
"It's cool to partner with something that has a history and the people who have been here before you have done it, so you know there's this shared history between generations," Chiefs offensive lineman Mitchell Schwartz said. "The way things move in the NFL these days, it's cool to be connected to people who came before you."
Stoll said the linemen's presence is always warm and welcoming, despite their rep on the field.
"They love the kids and they're just glad to be part of the organization, knowing they're making a difference," Stoll said.
And for some of the linemen, this event is just as important for their significant other.
"My wife works with kids with autisms and she worked with kids with special needs in college, so it's something she's very passionate about as well," Schwartz said. "It's a great opportunity to show people us as players, but also us as families and show there's a little bit more to us than just what you see on the field."
To learn more about FDFDS, visit their website here.