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Amid the Continuing Pandemic, Palmer and the Entire ‘Fill the Stadium’ Team Focus on Freeing the World’s Neediest from Desperate

September 14, 2021

COLORADO SPRINGS, Colo. — With the 2021 NFL football season now underway, eager fans are following every move of their favorite teams and players. One former NFL quarterback, Carson Palmer, is celebrating the new season as well—but he’s also hard at work helping to “fill” another type of “stadium” this year.  

For 15 seasons, Carson Palmer excelled as a professional quarterback. Today, he and many others are keenly aware that COVID-19 has had a devastating effect on poverty-stricken children around the globe. It’s why Palmer has joined with Compassion International and its Fill the Stadium (FtS, fillthestadium.com) initiative to assist in providing essential food, medical care and support to the impoverished.

Palmer committed to donating $300,000 himself—and challenged others to match that donation. But while the Fill the Stadium initiative has gained massive support, the effort is not yet complete. Compassion’s CEO Santiago “Jimmy” Mellado is determined to achieve Fill the Stadium’s goal of helping all 70,000 children in crisis. The team has raised over $31 million so far, reaching more than 62,000 kids and their families, but they must “fill the stadium”—and reach all 70,000 kids at grave risk of hunger, or worse.

CEO Mellado explains, “We are committed to caring for 70,000 children who were not sponsored due to the pandemic, which is enough children to fill an average NFL football stadium. At Compassion, we believe the empty stadiums at the Tokyo Olympics this summer and at NFL games last season were a sobering reminder of those who still need essential food, health care, and support as this crisis continues.”

Mellado, Palmer, and the rest of the team are familiar with striving to “win” on behalf of others. As a standout decathlete, Mellado himself competed in the 1988 Summer Games in Seoul, South Korea, representing his birth nation, El Salvador. Mellado placed 26th of 42 athletes who qualified in Seoul and set six national records for the highest performance in the decathlon, men’s high jump, 400m, 110m high hurdles, pole vault, and javelin. Thirty-two years later, his decathlon record still stands. He also competed in the Pan Am Games in 1987.

Now, Mellado has a far more pressing mission: to “fill the stadium.” This is why his Fill the Stadium initiative, with the help of Carson Palmer and many others, is pushing harder than ever to support the world’s neediest.

In the COVID-19 era, “We have all experienced the reality of empty stadiums,” says the Fill the Stadium team. “The average NFL stadium holds 70,000 seats. We need to reach that many kids. This effort desperately needs a caring, prayerful, and thoughtful community to join together in this critical relief.”

In addition to Palmer, those holding co-leadership roles in this charitable team effort are Alyssa Naeher, a member of the U.S. Olympic Women’s Soccer Team (which won a Bronze Medal in Tokyo); Nick Foles, professional football MVP quarterback; Adam Engel of the Chicago White Sox; Sam Burns, PGA TOUR golfer; Nick Ahmed of the Arizona Diamondbacks; Jordy Nelson, former professional wide receiver; Devin and Jason McCourty, NFL defensive backs; Nate Solder of the New York Giants; Jaccob Slavin of the Carolina Hurricanes; Brock Huard, FOX sports broadcaster and former professional quarterback; and many others. Steve Stenstrom, president of Pro Athletes Outreach, is also playing a lead role in the effort.

To learn more about this effort, visit the Fill the Stadium website, as well as Facebook, Instagram and Twitter.

Founded in 1952,Compassion International is a Christian child development organization that works to release children from poverty in Jesus’ name. Compassion revolutionized the fight against global poverty by working exclusively with the Church to lift children out of spiritual, economic, social, and physical poverty. Compassion partners with more than 8,000 churches in 25 countries to deliver its holistic child development program to over 2 million babies, children, and young adults. Its child sponsorship program has been validated through independent, empirical research.


To interview Santiago “Jimmy” Mellado, president and CEO of Compassion International, or another Fill the Stadium spokesperson, contact Hamilton Strategies, Media@HamiltonStrategies.com, Jeff Tolson, 610.584.1096, ext. 108, or Deborah Hamilton, ext. 102.