Giving back, a lot, is simply what Miami resident and retired National Football League linebacker Stephen Tulloch does.
The 2003 Killian High School graduate recently completed his latest project: building a school in his mother’s hometown of Little London, Jamaica. His mom, Mercedes Tulloch, also now lives in Miami.
“My mom means everything to me,” Stephen Tulloch said in email. “Growing up, she always gave back and gave to others even when we had nothing to give, she was still helping people. She instilled those values in me, and now that I am able to give back. This is a perfect way to honor her.”
Along with other NFL friends and enthusiastic volunteers, the veteran football player rolled up his sleeves to work with the Helping Hands Jamaica Foundation on a three-day build of the Little London Infant School, pre-K through age 7, just a mile from his mother’s childhood home.
“My mother always pushed me to do better in school, study hard, get good grades,” he said. “A part of my foundation focuses on education, and building this school is the perfect fit for me.”
He said a lot of his family still live in Jamaica and to go back to help build a school there is “amazing.”
“Because of people that have helped me along the way, I’m able to give back and put a school in a city that needs it, and will help thousands of children for years to come, it’s big,” he said.
The new school will house 125 children and will include running water to allow the students to have a kitchen and indoor bathrooms, things we take for granted but that are not available at many schools in the area.
There are five classrooms that will have desks and learning supplies, and an outdoor “playscape.”
The building is next to the Little London Primary School in an effort to ease transitions for the students as their education advances. The new school, currently being finished with wiring and plumbing, is already enrolling students for September classes.
Stephen Tulloch, who retired from football in April, has been a staunch supporter of youths and causes during his 11-year NFL professional career. In 2009, when he was playing with the Tennessee Titans, he launched the Stephen Tulloch Foundation. His group helped underprivileged kids in Nashville by hosting camps and providing education materials to schools in the area.
He then launched Operation 55 while playing for the Detroit Lions. Tulloch “adopted” 55 Detroit schools and provided students with books, technology and supplies. He also helped area children get dental care, and he “adopted” Detroit-area families during the holidays. He hosted the annual “Evening of Hope” for breast cancer survivors while he played in Detroit.
In 2016, Tulloch published his first children’s book, “The Little Linebacker,” with author Maria Dismondy. The book has been placed in schools across the country. His story aims to teach children “that by hard work and determination, you can be anything you want in life.”
“My family roots are in Jamaica,” he said. “My dad was born in Kingston, my mom in Little London, just outside of Negril, and I still have family here. Jamaica holds a special place in my heart. By building this school, we will be able to not only positively effect the current students but help provide a safe and effective learning environment for years to come for the children here.”
For more on how you can help through the Stephen Tulloch Foundation, visit tulloch55.com.
Art auction success
When news spread about the fundraising efforts of 10-year-old budding artist and St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital patient Victoria Rubio — and her quest to raise money as gratitude for treatment — Robin Kluge was moved to do more.
South Beach resident Kluge, an agent with Douglas Elliman Real Estate, made a plan to host an art auction at a Miami Beach home. The event showcased local artist paintings and proceeds were donated to St. Jude’s. The center, founded by 20th-century entertainer Danny Thomas, has treated thousands of children with cancer without charge.
Little Victoria also auctioned one of her special handcrafted works of art.
“I was so touched by Team Victoria’s story and St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital’s mission,” Kluge said in a release. “No family should worry about paying for treatment while they battle cancer, and in order for the hospital to continue its important mission of saving lives, it must receive donations. As a parent, there is nothing more rewarding than being able to help Team Victoria for the benefit of St. Jude.”
The “Have a Heart Auction,” was hosted May 18 at Casa Mia on Sunset Island and more than $13,000 was raised for the research center. Works by noted Polish artist Mariusz Navratil were highlighted. Proceeds from ticket sales raised money to provide platelet counts doctors use to monitor patient health during treatment.
“We are humbled by Robin’s spontaneous act of kindness, and we are pleased to be a supporter of this important cause and event,” Douglas Elliman Florida CEO Jay Phillip Parker said in a release.
Learn more about Team Victoria and the St. Jude Walk/Run to End Childhood Cancer set for Sept. 23 at http://hrld.us/2uAMeev.
Free star party
Bring family, friends and future astronomers to a free Key West-style star party 8 p.m. July 28 at Florida International University Modesto Madique campus, 11200 SW Eighth St. in West Miami-Dade. There will be prizes and food.
Wear your colorful Key West clothes and enjoy Key lime pies, soda and music. Weather permitting, attendees are invited to explore the skies on the roof of the campus observatory. There also will be a tour of the Control Center that houses computers linked to three FIU remote telescopes, established by research astronomer James R. Webb at Kitt Peak National Observatory in Tucson, Arizona, northern Chile and the Canary Islands.
The FIU Astronomy Club members and the Southern Cross Astros will answer questions about observations and equipment.
Park in the campus garage, in faculty/visitor spaces, on the west side of Southwest 109th Avenue and Eighth Street. Follow the SCAS signs across the street and patio into CP-145. For more, write to firstname.lastname@example.org.
If you have news for this column, please send it to Christina Mayo at email@example.com.