Two-year-old Tyrese Ruffin died from injuries he received while being allegedly abused by his mother's boyfriend in October. Now the son of Minnesota Vikings running back Adrian Peterson is inspiring others in the football community to help child abuse victims.
While the Sioux Falls Storm battles their opponents inside the arena, a booth in the lobby battles the issue of child abuse.
Storm Wide Receiver James Terry knew going into the season he wanted to do something for charity. When he heard the news about the death of two-year-old Tyrese, he knew who he was playing for.
"I got a son that age, so I imagine what she was going through and how she was feeling and how her family was going through it. I just felt like it was a sign, just I couldn't do it for nothing else but that," Terry said.
As part of the Touchdowns For Ty! Campaign, people pledge money for every time Terry scores during home games this season. The booth also has shirts, bracelets and a free will donation box to raise money. 100 percent of the sales go towards supporting abuse and neglect victims at the Children's Home Society in Sioux Falls in Ty's name.
Terry says the campaign took a while to get going, but he was happy with the response when his team stepped on their home turf.
"The first game, it just took off. It was bigger than I think anyone of us expected. So, that's good that people are coming together to support what we are doing," Terry said.
The wide receiver says they raised $1,700 that first home game. He is getting a lot of help from the community, so he thinks the amount of money raised will continue to grow.
"It's coming along a lot. We got a lot of people helping out with donations, helping out with their time. I mean anything you can do is a positive step," Terry said.
The former Kansas State Wildcat says while he has thousands of people cheering his name every game day, he still feels privileged to be playing a role in changing lives for those that might not be able to cheer.
"Just being a part of it, it feels like you're making a difference. It's sad something like that had to happen for you to do something like that, but we're just doing our part to make sure it doesn't happen again," Terry said.
For anyone that is interested in helping out, you can email firstname.lastname@example.org.