Sept. 7, 2016
As seen in the September 3rd edition of the Ohio State Football Official Gameday Magazine. To view this story and more, click here.
Ohio State Athletics Communications
A little girl named Erica was ready for the Buckeye football player to wash her feet. The same bare feet which walk a few miles between home and school every day just to help her mom take care of her younger brothers and sisters. Preparing to put on the shoes intended for Erica, she stopped him and asked for a smaller pair. At nine years old, she was willing to make a sacrifice so that her siblings would have the shoes they needed.
Raekwon McMillan traveled to Jamaica with the Soles4Souls program in May. He was inspired to apply for the trip by former Silver Bullet, Joshua Perry, who went on the same service trip to Costa Rica in 2015.
“Learning how much this impacted his life made me feel like this was something I needed to do because I am blessed with so many opportunities that I don’t get the chance very often to see what other people do not have,” McMillan said.
Accompanied by his fellow teammate, Billy Price, McMillan was put to work in the hands-on service trip to Jamaica. They went to schools in Montego Bay and Kingston which had no air conditioning, water supply or bathrooms. The children lined up for their feet to be washed and received a new pair of shoes.
“Seeing the kids in Jamaica able to be so happy with so little helped me appreciate more of the things that I take for granted,” the junior added.
McMillan returned to practice with a new mindset after the trip. He used to be unaware of how wasteful the team can be with throwing away unfinished food and water. The small amount of food that they throw in the trash means a lot to someone else in the world. McMillan reminded his teammates that there was no reason to be wasteful. As a returning starter and team captain, McMillan’s teammates listened.
On the field, McMillan led the team last season with the most tackles of any sophomore in the past 25 years. He recorded 119 tackles to add to the 166 in his career for the Scarlet and Gray. McMillan is one of just three returning starters on defense and has demonstrated his leadership to be just as important to his team in practices as well as on gameday. McMillan recognized that when he saw a freshman linebacker looking up to him the past couple of weeks.
“Everything I’ve done in the past, Keandre Jones has tried to emulate,” McMillan said. “Just knowing that I have someone watching me all the time makes me want to make sure I’m always doing the right thing so that I don’t lead him in the wrong direction.”
Jones is not alone in looking up to McMillan. As one of seven team captains on a young Buckeye team, stepping into a leadership role is crucial to the team’s success this season. McMillan has not only impacted the Buckeyes but has made strides towards leaving a mark internationally through Soles4Souls. Whether it is committing his free time to community service or being a role model to his teammates, the service trip opened his eyes to opportunities to be grateful for what he has and show others how to do the same.
“Always remember that the half-eaten food and water you are throwing away in the trash could be helpful for someone else, so just finish it.”