Davon Godchaux Named Dolphins 2019 WPMOY Nominee

Davon Godchaux perhaps said it best in a tweet he posted in the middle of November.

"Football is not my purpose, it's what I do! My purpose is to impact people's lives and continue to give back to the communities in need!"

The Dolphins nominee for the 2019 Walter Payton NFL Man of the Year Award, Godchaux has been living that mission ever since he arrived as a fifth-round pick out of LSU in the 2017.

It was why Monday night, one day after a physical battle with the New York Jets at MetLife Stadium in New Jersey, he was out with a group from TruPrep Academy for a little bowling, socializing and mentorship.

It's why you can usually count on him being there if the Dolphins are conducting some sort of offseason clinic. It's why he not only hosted a thanksgiving dinner at Hard Rock Stadium, but he also bought hundreds of turkeys so folks in his hometown of Plaquemine, Louisiana, could enjoy a nice holiday dinner too.

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"Growing up, I didn't have it all," Godchaux explained. "I wasn't born with a silver spoon, so I feel like I always got the opportunity to give back, to give a little more, I always want to give back to the community and make sure giving back to the kids is always important to me.

"At the end of the day, I think the kids are the next generation. That's the next group up. We have to make sure our kids are straight. Any time I have a chance to impact a kid's life I think it's always important because I feel like growing up somebody impacted my life."

Godchaux's community involvement has been obvious from his rookie season, but it only has increased over the past couple of years.

He's a cancer fighter who is fighting for his older sister, who was diagnosed with cervical cancer earlier this year and recently finished her chemotherapy treatments. It was her battle that prompted him to join the fundraising efforts for the Dolphins Cancer Challenge (DCC).

Godchaux has attended several DCC fundraising events and encouraged potential donors to give. In recognition of Breast Cancer Awareness Month, Devon pledged to donate $100 for every tackle he made in October. The donations were made in honor of his sister and split between the DCC and his own Chauxdown Foundation.

During the offseason, Godchaux attended the Girls Flag Football Jamboree presented by Nike, a 27-team tournament, where he was impressed with the girls' excitement and passion for playing football. The girls, in turn, were excited by his support and competitive advice.

Godchaux has participated in two team-led community surprises for underserved youth. Hope to Dream sleepover provides 100 beds to youth lacking their own bed to sleep in at night. Additionally, he has participated in the back-to-school shoe shopping spree with His House Children's Home, a residential foster care facility near the stadium.

The off-the-field work continues through a partnership with Microsoft for at-risk youth to attend coding workshops to encourage them to learn a new skill.

He makes yearly visits to Boys and Girls Club and TruPrep Academy, an all-boys school in Miami Gardens, to mentor youth about making positive choices which is the mission of his foundation. Chauxdown Inc. provides at-risk-youth with programming that supports their education, fitness and overall well-being.

"Me giving, I'm just going to receive more," Godchaux said. "I don't do it because I can't receive, but I feel like it's a genuine thing for me to just give to kids, especially those kids who aren't fortunate to have things.

"I just try to do as many (events) as I can. Of course we have things during football season, but anything I can do to help, I'm always willing to give back."

In his rookie season, Godchaux participated in the youth football clinic for Special Olympics, campus beautification for AMI Kids, a school for at-risk youth who have been kicked out of school, and a Thanksgiving meal distribution. His experiences in his hometown rookie volunteer events have helped to shape his community objectives.

It was during his second NFL season that Godchaux formed his own foundation and identified the community needs where he feels he can make the most impact. His foundation provides funding and programming that supports education, fitness and over all well-being for at-risk youth.

In his hometown of Plaquemine, Godchaux has a mentoring program for teens ages 13-19. The program gives youth the opportunity to engage in tutoring sessions, college visits, and social engagement opportunities that expose them to experiences that our outside of their daily norm providing them unique growth opportunities. For the past two years, Godchaux hosted back-to-school, Thanksgiving and Holiday toy drives benefiting at-risk youth in his hometown and he also hosted a youth summer football camp.

Davon teamed up with TruPrep Academy to mentor young boys in Miami Gardens. This year, he added the Boys & Girls Club to his mentoring groups and partnered with Microsoft where he joined several different groups of at-risk youth for a coding workshop. The children learned how to code using SpaceCast! and Godchaux was there to engage with the kids and reinforce the need to make positive life choices.

In addition to team-led community events, Godchaux has several events that he will host throughout the season, including the Thanksgiving turkey and holiday toys distributions in his hometown and in South Florida. He also mentors a youth football player at Miami Carol City High School and attends his games when available. Lastly, Davon participated in the Play 60 Virtual Field Trip filming for Super Bowl this year.

All of that made Godchaux a clear choice as Dolphins nominee for the Walter Payton NFL Man of the Year award.

He succeeded Kenny Stills, who had been the Dolphins' nominee the past two years.

All 32 players selected as their team's Man of the Year are now eligible to win the national award. The Walter Payton NFL Man of the Year Award presented by Nationwide recognizes an NFL player for outstanding community service activities off the field, as well as excellence on the field. First established in 1970, the national award was renamed in 1999 after the late Hall of Fame Chicago Bears running back WALTER PAYTON.

"Every day, in cities and towns across America, NFL players give of themselves to make our communities better. This year, as we celebrate our 100th season and the 50th year of the Walter Payton NFL Man of Year Award, NFL players have continued to raise the bar on community engagement and impact," said NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell. "The 32 nominees for this year's award are the best of the best and truly embody the spirit of Walter and his legacy of leaving the world better than he found it."

For the second year in a row, all 32 team winners will be highlighted as nominees and recognized for their important work during the weekend leading up to Super Bowl LIV.

The 2019 Walter Payton NFL Man of the Year will be announced during "NFL Honors," a two-hour prime-time awards special to air nationally on Feb. 1, the eve of Super Bowl LIV on FOX. NFL Honors will be at the Adrienne Arsht Center in downtown Miami.

All 32 nominees will receive a donation of up to $50,000 in their name to their charity of choice. The winner of the Walter Payton NFL Man of the Year award will receive a $250,000 donation to the charity of their choice. All donations are courtesy of the NFL Foundation and Nationwide.

Fans are encouraged to participate in Nationwide's fifth annual Charity Challenge, a social media campaign designed to support and promote team nominees. Fans can vote on Twitter by using #WPMOYChallenge followed by their favorite nominee's last name. The player whose unique hashtag is used the most between Dec. 12 and Jan. 12 will receive a $25,000 contribution to their charity of choice, while the second and third place finishers will receive $10,000 and $5,000 donations, all courtesy of Nationwide. Hashtag information and official rules can be found at nfl.com/manoftheyear.

The Dolphins have had three players selected as NFL Man of the Year — Dwight Stephenson in 1985, Dan Marino in 1998 and Jason Taylor in 2007.

But, as Godchaux pointed out, it's the work that matters when it comes to community involvement, not the rewards or the recognition.

"Most importantly, you have to do it with your heart," Godchaux said. "If my heart is in the right place, that means I'm always in a place of giving. I feel like giving back, it just speaks more about you, more than an athlete, more than a football player. It speaks more about you."

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