In the early 1990s, a national debate surfaced in our country. A number of people were suggesting that the role of a father in his child’s life was unimportant, unnecessary, and replaceable. On the other hand, many people like me were stunned. Of course, a father has a huge impact on the life of his child! And yet, we knew that it was up to us to prove to our culture that every child needs the love and care of a dad.
So we, and others, set out to gather tangible evidence that proved the importance of fathers in the lives of their kids. Through those studies, not only did we find that 80% of prisoners come from fatherless homes, but also that a fatherless child is:
- 4 times more likely to live in poverty
- 7 times more likely to deal with teen pregnancy
- More likely to perform poorer in school
- More likely to abuse alcohol and drugs
Armed with this tragic evidence, we knew at that moment more than ever that our nation needed fathers—men who knew the extent of their impact on their kids and would be motivated to lead and love them well.
So in 1997, All Pro Dad was launched after a conversation I had with Tony Dungy. At the time, he had just become the head coach of the Tampa Bay Buccaneers and had a heart to help fathers become better dads. During our meeting, Coach Dungy shared with me how blessed he was to have grown up with a father who was there for him, who supported him, and who loved him. But Tony also shared how it broke his heart to learn that the majority of his players grew up fatherless. Coach Dungy was excited to use his newfound platform to partner with us in creating a new generation of men who would be All Pro Dads.
We had our first All Pro Dad Father and Kids event at a Bucs training camp. That year, the Bucs only had about 75-100 people coming out to see them at training camp each day. So we were absolutely amazed when 5,000 dads and kids came to our event! It was that day that we realized we’d hit a nerve and needed to keep moving in that same direction. And we’ve done just that. Over the last 20 years, we’ve had 99 more All Pro Dad Father Kid Experiences with 28 different NFL and NCAA teams across the nation.
As the Father and Kids Experience continued to grow, we decided to bring another idea to life. We called it All Pro Dad’s Day. All Pro Dad’s Day is a once a month gathering with kids and their fathers where they share breakfast, spend time together and learn important life lessons. These mornings are full of great conversation, a fun atmosphere, and the opportunity for dads and their kids to really bond together. We now have over 1,200 chapters, most of which are held in schools.
We also wanted to provide strong resources on fatherhood and marriage in addition to these group events. So, we found that the best way to communicate that advice was through a daily email. This short email is now sent out to over 90,000 dads each day and is filled with simple tips on how to be a better dad.
But our work isn’t done yet. As dads continue to learn the importance of their role in their children’s lives, we’ve made it our goal to equip them with excellent resources. We are continually working every day towards the goal of eradicating fatherlessness.Every child needs the love and care of a dad.
Will you join us to help end fatherlessness?