Pro athlete effort delivers life-saving aid for 70,000 children worldwide struggling in the wake of COVID-19—and they aren’t about to stop
January 10, 2021
Members of Compassion International’s Fill the Stadium team are extremely grateful and honor those who have participated in this life-saving initiative as they share remarkable news: this week, the $35 million goal has been reached for the Fill the Stadium effort, which has provided critical food, medical care and support for more than 76,000 of the 2.2 million children in Compassion’s programs whose access to support was interrupted by COVID-19 shutdowns.
With the impressive goal reached, the Compassion team is ready to carry on with the campaign into the new year. There are even more children around the world in need of critical food, medical care, and other support.
Leaders of Fill the Stadium are Santiago “Jimmy” Mellado, CEO and president of Compassion International (www.compassion.com), a Christ-centered, church-driven ministry dedicated to releasing children from poverty in Jesus’ name, and Steve Stenstrom, president of Pro Athletes Outreach. Together, they launched Fill the Stadium in March 2020.
Joining Mellado and Stenstrom in co-leadership roles for Fill the Stadium efforts are such standout professional athletes as Nate Solder, New York Giants offensive tackle; Chris Davis, former Baltimore Oriole first baseman, Alyssa Naeher, a member of the U.S. Olympic and World Cup Women’s Soccer Team; Case Keenum, Cleveland Browns quarterback; Nick Foles, professional football MVP quarterback; Adam Engel of the Chicago White Sox; Carson Palmer, former NFL quarterback; Sam Burns, PGA TOUR golfer; Nick Ahmed of the Arizona Diamondbacks; Jordy Nelson, former professional wide receiver; Devin and Jason McCourty, NFL defensive backs; Jaccob Slavin of the Carolina Hurricanes; Brock Huard, FOX sports broadcaster and former professional quarterback; and many others.
Fill the Stadium grew out of a vision that Stenstrom had. Stenstrom commented, “After talking with Jimmy about the impact of the pandemic shutdowns on Compassion’s programs, I learned 70,000 children Compassion had just registered would have no hope for sponsorship support because of COVID cancelations. We didn’t know then that it would also lead to a hunger crisis. As a former professional quarterback, I realized 70,000 is the same size as an NFL stadium. From that moment forward, we knew that while other stadiums were empty last year, this was a stadium that couldn’t remain empty.”
“COVID has created a global economic and humanitarian crisis. It has had a devastating impact on the lives of the population that Compassion International serves,” said Mellado. “We realized right away it would take a movement to respond to a problem of this magnitude, and movements require leadership.
“The athletes and leaders that have given their time, resources and their hearts to these children can never be thanked enough. They leveraged their influence to spread awareness and help reach this tremendous goal— all for the children. If not for our lead team, this incredible feat would not have been reached so quickly.”
Mellado continued, “Now that the goal for this initiative has been met, my prayer is that the resourced world won’t move on too quickly and forget about the rest of their under-resourced brothers and sisters who desperately need their assistance. They continue to need our support both financially and spiritually.
“There are still so many children that desperately need our support.”
Compassion Internationalis a Christian child development organization working to release children from poverty in Jesus’ name. Founded in 1952, Compassion partners with more than 8,000 local churches in 25 program countries to deliver spiritual, economic, social, and physical care to over two million babies, children, and young adults in poverty. Ranked No. 8 in Forbes’ America’s Top Charities List in 2020, Compassion is a founding member of the Evangelical Council for Financial Accountability and an accredited charity with the Better Business Bureau’s Wise Giving Alliance. For more information, visit compassion.com or follow us on Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter.