Johnny Hekker joined the NFL in 2012 as an undrafted rookie from Oregon State. He signed with the Rams where he has spent his entire career — first in St. Louis and now in Los Angeles. Arguably the best punter in the league today, Hekker has made a name for himself on the football field. However, Hekker’s work off the field is equally noteworthy.
Hekker’s altruistic instincts kicked into high gear after the California wildfires in late 2017, particularly the Thomas fire in Ventura County. After seeing billowing smoke and roaring flames incinerate homes in neighboring communities, Johnny consulted his wife about how to help. Without a second thought, they rushed to the store, stocked up on clothing and toiletries, and drove directly to a nearby shelter to deliver the items to wildfire victims.
While Hekker could have patted himself on the back for his good deed and turned his focus back to football, he felt compelled to do more. After asking the Rams organization for support, they forged a partnership with the American Red Cross. Hekker’s advocacy resulted in additional donations of food and supplies from teammates and Rams staff.
Hekker also tweeted to his 41,000 Twitter followers about ways to support wildfire victims. Then to top it off, he partnered with the United Way of Los Angeles to co-design t-shirts for a wildfire relief fundraising campaign. With 100 percent of t-shirt proceeds going to relief efforts, the campaign raised $17,877.
In December 2017, the National Football League Players Association named Hekker its Week 14 NFLPA Community MVP for his dedication to the wildfire relief efforts. The association grants the Community MVP award every week during the NFL regular season to players who are making a positive impact in their communities.
Hekker pays it forward through other causes too. Recently, Hekker made a surprise visit to students at Columbus Middle School in Los Angeles to celebrate their victory in the “Street Safety Hero Pledge,” a campaign that encourages traffic safety around the city. His visit was part of a larger initiative launched in September 2017 with State Farm, Vision Zero and the Los Angeles Unified School District.
Hekker continues to make the most of the opportunities that the NFL affords him, stating, “My faith and background have helped me to truly appreciate the platform that football provides because it allows me to be a part of something bigger.”