Tommy Thompson leads a life any true sports fan would envy.
He has sipped wine and exchanged road-trip advice with Bob Gibson, a Major League Baseball Hall of Famer.
He has been at the center of gathering 12 Heisman Trophy winners for a game of golf.
He’s become the first face some, including football coach Barry Switzer, sportscaster and former NFL football player Drew Pearson and former NFL football player Bob Lilly, expect to see when arriving in Tulsa.
They come to assist Thompson with helping local nonprofit organizations through Tulsa Sports Charities (TSC), an organization he created eight years ago to develop sports-themed fundraising events.
Equipped with a lineup of volunteers, Thompson, TSC’s executive director, has worked to organize events such as an annual legends dinner and a celebrity charity golf tournament, not only allowing him to meet some incredibly talented people but also to make a change in his community.
Today, TSC has donated more than half a million dollars to a number of schools and organizations, including The Center for Individuals with Physical Challenges and the Tulsa Metropolitan Urban League.
As a former schoolteacher and coach, Thompson recognized the importance of also donating several college scholarships to University of Oklahoma, Oklahoma State University and University of Tulsa students.
(A Tulsa Sports Charities event / food bank delivery is featured above)
With a big year ahead, including a golf tournament at Cedar Ridge Country Club to benefit The Children’s Hospital at Saint Francis, Thompson discussed his desire to touch the lives of young people through his passion for sports:
Everybody has a motto. Ours is to raise money, give it all away and have fun doing it. That’s what Tulsa Sports Charities is all about. … This year, we gave away $2,500 to Tulsa Public Schools’ athletic department for middle schools. We wrote a check for $500 to the Upward basketball league to help kids who couldn’t pay for their uniforms.
We’re going to work with the Drillers to get baseball more into the flow of athletics on the north side of Tulsa. … We’re trying to move our focus to the kids. When I was a kid, I grew up without a dad. Sports became my dad.
You want to be told right from wrong, and sports helped me understand that. Sports help to teach kids discipline. … There are a lot of kids who have benefited from sports who are not playing professional sports but are very successful in life because of the discipline they learned from sports.
That’s why I always wanted to coach. At age 36, I had a heart attack. … So I got out of coaching because of the stress. Now, this is my way of being a head coach.
… People say, ‘Why do you do it?’ You just have to look at my room at home. I have memorabilia in there that my grandson will get or my granddaughters. I get to go to the airport and pick these guys up and have conversations with them. The friendships I have now with … these guys who come in, it’s nice to be able to count on these guys.
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