Meet the Georgia Institute of Technology’s “go-to guys” when it comes to giving back to the community: Roddy Jones, Sean Bedford, Jason Peters and Kyle Jackson. When there’s a charitable event, an opportunity to work with kids and help those less fortunate, these are the men Leah Thomas, Tech’s director of total persons support services, calls on to represent the college.
“We have so many requests from the community, and I always turn to these guys and they recruit their friends,” Thomas said, noting that Tech football players regularly make appearances at events like the Special Olympics, elementary and middle school football camps, reading days, charity basketball games and events for Children’s Healthcare of Atlanta.
Even more impressive is this service is not a requirement for Tech’s athletes, but something they want to do, Thomas said. “The feedback I receive from organizations is always positive,” she said. “People are excited to meet the players, and I remind the guys that they are making fans by giving their time and energy to these projects. These are fine young men.”
As another of the founding members of Georgia Tech’s Brotherhood for Excellence organization, Jackson, 20, is a sophomore majoring in business management with a minor in pre-law. A native of McDonough, Ga., Jackson was a star player at Union Grove High School and as a freshman at Tech was named 2008 ACC Defensive Rookie of the Year by ACC Sports Journal. With the Brotherhood for Excellence, Jackson has volunteered at football camps for kids, the Atlanta Caribbean Festival and the Chuck Liddell football camp and has tutored/mentored kids at Blalock Elementary and Ingram Elementary schools. He said the Brotherhood is working to establish a nonprofit football camp and create a college grant for a student who has shown outstanding athletic ability and community service. Jackson’s drive to give back began in high school, where has active with the Big Brothers/Big Sisters program, Youth Leadership Henry and Hands on Henry, which does similar work to Habitat for Humanity. “My parents taught me that giving back is one of the greatest things you can do,” Jackson said. “If we better ourselves, we can help better the community and youth.” Jackson said he hopes to play professional football, but also plans to pursue his MBA at Tech and become a lawyer. He said the upcoming football season is “going to be a good one for us.”
Gainesville, Fla., native Sean Bedford, 21, is a junior at Tech majoring in aerospace engineering. He’s involved with Brotherhood for Excellence, a campus service organization whose main mission is to contribute to the college and community. Bedford recently volunteered at the Georgia Marathon, working the hydration station, has made numerous appearances at schools for football camps and is “personally a big fan of Special Olympics,” volunteering with the organization every year he’s been at Tech. “Meeting and working with these talented kids facing adversity has been incredible,” he said. Bedford credits his parents, Dean Bedford and Kathleen Boudrou, for fostering his desire to give back. “My mom was in charge of a nonprofit that distributed food from restaurants to the needy; my father was active in church, and they always brought me along,” Bedford recalled. He said a “watershed moment” was as a senior in high school when he was helping distribute food baskets for the needy: “I met this elderly couple who didn’t have a dime and the wife was sick, but they didn’t want to talk about their troubles, they wanted to talk about football and take their minds off their condition. That was an eye-opening experience for me.” Bedford is working toward a minoring in pre-law, and plans to keep giving back while at Tech and the rest of his life. “Working in the community is one of the greatest rewards in life,” Beford said. As for the upcoming football season: “It’s looking great,” Bedford enthused. “I don’t see a game in our schedule we can’t win.”
Roderick Rinaldo Jones II – but just Roddy to friends – grew up in Stone Mountain and is a sophomore at Georgia Tech. While attending Chamblee High School, he was one of DeKalb County’s star athletes in both football and baseball. His charitable spirit was instilled early by his parents, Rod and Angel Jones. “My dad got me involved,” Jones, 20, recalled. “He kept me involved in things as youth park director at Tucker Fitzgerald Field, like working at the concession stand and helping out as coach. That’s what planted the seed. When I was little, I remember seeing college athletes come out and help us and the effect that had on me, so I wanted to return that.” His brother, Darius, is at the Air Force Academy, so “service is in the family.” Jones, who is a management major at Tech, is a member of the Student Athlete Advisory Board (SAAB), which is where Leah Thomas turns first when she needs volunteers for community projects. Jones said two of his most memorable moments were attending the opening of the Special Olympics and Georgia Tech Day at his former high school, where players conducted football camps for kids ages 6-14. “When you go out to the schools and wear the jersey, the kids perk up,” Jones said. “It makes their day, and that’s a fulfilling thing to do. When I go to an event and have the opportunity to help people, that makes me happy.” Jones dislocated his wrist while lifting weights earlier in the summer, but he’s on the mend and looking forward to the season opening on Sept. 5 against Jacksonville State. “We’re going to have a really good team,” Jone said. “The goal is to go undefeated, get an ACC championship and then national. That would put Georgia Tech back on the map as national power.”
As a high school footballer in Baton Rouge, La., Peters, now 21, was the Gatorade Circle of Champions Player of the Year and was ranked as a top prospect for recruiters. Now a junior at Georgia Tech and majoring in information technology, Peters is one of the founding members of the Brotherhood for Excellence service organization. He’s volunteered his time at the Special Olympics, Atlanta Caribbean Festival, with St. Louis Rams’ Chris Draft during an NFL Day for family health and wellness, and working with kids at football camps and field days. The Brotherhood of Excellence was created to fill the gap in what Peters called a “disconnect between alumnae and community service.” Peters said he wanted to “step up to the plate and show that Tech is more than just books and football, but that we also care about our community.” Peters’ charitable spirit wasn’t fostered until he arrived at Tech. “I had a one-track mind on football when I was in Baton Rouge,” he said, “but that changed when I got to Tech. My mind was opened up to many things.” Peter said his hope for the Brotherhood of Excellence is “to be the best influence on kids we can be.” Once he finishes his career at Tech, Peters plans to enter a physician’s assistant program in Baton Rouge and eventually attend medical school. Peters said Tech’s season is “looking good, competitive.”