I Believe I Can: Q&A with Pierre Thomas
In New Orleans, the Saints are like family. One of the most popular members of the Saints clan is running back Pierre Thomas, who joined the team as an undrafted free agent out of the University of Illinois. But Thomas isn’t satisfied by simply having an outstanding career on the field; he wants to make a difference off it, too. He’s done that by founding the ICAN Foundation (believeican.org) to fight childhood obesity. This fall, the ICAN Foundation announced an exciting partnership with SPARK (www.sparkpe.org), a company that researches and provides options to schools to make classes, PE, and after-school programs more active. Together, they aim to raise funds to implement Spark’s physical education curriculum in local schools.
Thomas was kind enough to talk to us about his charity work, gridiron memories, and fondness for New Orleans.
1) As an NFL player, you have the opportunity to do a lot of charity work. What made you start the ICAN Foundation? Why is childhood obesity important to you?
My immediate family is affected by obesity and I knew I had to do something to help…And with my status as an NFL player, I decided to leverage that and bring awareness to obesity and the fact that it is largely preventable through being active and eating clean.
2) Talk about the partnership with SPARK. What will they bring to the table to help your program fight childhood obesity?
When my team informed me about SPARK, I immediately knew that the partnership was necessary. The fact that they bring evidence-based research goes a long way for us. And if we really want to make a difference…we needed help from other organizations and SPARK was a perfect fit with ICAN.
3) What are the biggest fitness obstacles for children?
Video games, Internet, TV and just them simply not being active.
4) What ICAN achievements are you proudest of?
The activities our team has created for the youngsters. There isn’t any one activity, but all of them. We created something from nothing and to see the smiles on the kids’ faces makes me know that we’re doing the right thing.
5) What programs/events can we look forward to from ICAN in 2015?
Our partnership with SPARK and City Greens. I’m definitely looking forward to launching these two new programs in 2015.
6) If you could give one piece of advice to kids regarding fitness and fighting obesity, what would it be?
The world is our playground. I encourage the kids to get outside with their peers and play different games and activities.
7) When you were a child, who inspired you to exercise and be fit?
My momma! She made me go outside and get away from the TV and video games. There were also a lot of professional athletes I looked up to, mostly Frank Thomas, Walter Payton, Barry Sanders and Michael Jordan.
8) What is your favorite memory from your Saints career?
That’s easy. Scoring the go-ahead touchdown in Super Bowl XLIV, which was actually the first touchdown in Saints Super Bowl history!
9) You've faced adversity in your career - you started as an undrafted free agent out of Illinois, you've suffered multiple injuries...What advice would you give to children about overcoming adversity?
You absolutely have to believe in yourself. There will always be people along the way who try to pull you down and tell you that you’re not good enough and will never be good enough. You just gotta believe! That’s hands down the most important thing to do when overcoming adversity.
10) What is your favorite thing about New Orleans?
That’s not a fair question, haha. It’s really hard to pick one favorite part of New Orleans. It is such a great city, but I definitely love the food, the people and the culture down here. I’m blessed to have spent 8 years with the Saints and am thankful for every year.