Born in North Charleston, South Carolina, Carlos Dunlap is a defensive end for the Cincinnati Bengals. Dunlap is currently playing in his eighth season with the Bengals who selected him in the 2010 NFL Draft after his junior year at the University of Florida.
Here are his answers to The Sport of Philanthropy’s top 10 questions about his philanthropic work:
What is your motivation for giving back?
Growing up, I didn't have any players coming into our schools to speak with us, so for me, it's important to spread the love. When I got to Cincinnati and saw my teammate Michael Johnson always giving back, that motivated me to do the same.
Why did you choose bullying as a primary cause for the Carlos Dunlap Foundation?
There was a student here in Cincinnati who committed suicide because of bullying. When I saw the news article, I knew we needed to help bring awareness to the seriousness of bullying.
What was your experience with bullying growing up?
I always like to tell students my personal story about how as a kid I was a jokester, so I would make jokes about people. However, in hindsight and now that I know what I know about bullying, if that person wasn't laughing at my jokes, then I was actually being a bully.
How have you seen your foundation help reduce bullying?
We've seen an increase in children's understanding of bullying. I have the kids admit to when they've been a bully, seen bullying or been a victim of it. It's an enlightening moment for the kids to hear personal stories from their fellow students instead of just hearing adults tell them it's wrong. Additionally, we ask the kids to tell us why bullying isn't cool and to say something kind to their neighbor. It sounds silly but it really sticks. Teachers and parents continually tell us about the impact they are seeing with their kids.
Are there any other issues you focus on at the Carlos Dunlap Foundation?
Breast cancer. We have a spa night for survivors every year and then invite the ladies to the game and onto the field.
Can you share a particular success story about a person you've helped through your foundation or other charitable work?
This year for our spa night, we had an in-depth conversation where I learned the ins and outs of the breast cancer process from diagnosis to treatment. Sitting with the women and learning about the mammogram process was extremely impactful. Seeing their tears of joy when we surprised them with field passes was priceless. We lost that game, but those women are the true champions.
What philanthropic accomplishment are you most proud of?
Both breast cancer awareness because of the raw emotions the women express and bullying because if we can prevent just ONE suicide, it's worth it.
Are you involved with other philanthropic activities outside your foundation?
I continue to support my teammates’ endeavors in addition to my own.
What advice would you give other athletes and influential sports figures seeking to use their platforms to create positive social impact and better the world?
Do it! No matter how incremental the impact may SEEM, it's our job to be a difference maker.
Anything else you want to add?