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Former Dolphin brings joy to the lives of local youth

Jason Taylor takes hardworking students school shopping

Gigi Tinsley | 9/12/2013, 11 a.m.

During the recent Labor Day weekend, Jason Taylor, retired Miami Dolphins All-Pro, took 20 students from Brownsville Middle, Carol City Middle and Senior, Northwestern Senior and William H. Turner Senior High Schools on a $300 shopping spree to Old Navy. And by taking advantage of a 30 percent storewide sale, each student was able to make purchases that totaled $420.Taylor, the founder and president of the Jason Taylor Foundation, says that he, along with his wife, Katina [vice president] and the Foundation’s board, take their mission statement seriously.

“Our goal is to facilitate the personal growth and empowerment of South Florida’s children in need by focusing on improved healthcare, education and quality of life,” he said. “I remember what it was like being a child. If your clothes were not as cool as those worn by your classmates you weren’t treated well. “It’s not a good feeling.”Sharron Henley, vice-president of programs for the Urban League of Miami, led the entourage that accompanied Taylor and his special guest, rapper Ricky Rozay, on the shopping trip.

“The Jason Taylor Foundation has taken students on shopping sprees like this since 2005 and to see the happiness on the faces of the children means a lot to us,” Henley said. “He buys them the latest gear for the school year. All we can say to him and his wife is thank you.”

Building character one child at a time Last August, students from the Miami area participated in Camp Katina -- Cartwheels to Character. The camp was founded August 19, 2011 by Jason’s wife, Katina for girls 7-12 years of age. They participate in gymnastics, cheerleading and life-skills programs. Nearly 50 girls from the Marti Huizenga Boys and Girls Club, Overtown Youth Center and Urban League of Broward and Miami-Dade participated in the three-day camp at the West Broward Gymnastics Academy in Davie. In addition to the sports activities, the girls heard from a panel of guest speakers made up of influential South Florida women who discussed a variety of topics including the importance of education and goal setting, healthy eating habits, physical fitness, etiquette, respect and appreciation for others and honoring commitments.The camp culminated with a visit from Jason and Katina’s brother, Miami Dolphins’ legendary linebacker, Zack Thomas, who interacted with the girls and posed for pictures with each of the campers. Each camper received a medal and certificate. Since its inception in 2004, the Foundation has contributed nearly $3M to programs and services dedicated to helping local children.