A year ago at this time, former West Virginia University football player J.T. Thomas was preparing for the NFL Combine.

After an up-and-down season that included a back injury with the NFL’s Chicago Bears, Thomas – an all-Big East Conference linebacker while playing in the Old Gold and Blue – is busy this offseason giving back to the community through the J.T. Thomas Foundation.

“The J.T. Thomas Foundation is here to promote leadership, education, youth sports and to promote awareness for different childhood disabilities. This year was our first year, and we dedicated this first trip to the Epilepsy Foundation,” Thomas said.

Thomas will be back in Morgantown this weekend with some of his former Mountaineer teammates including stars from the 2010 record-setting WVU defense like Scooter Berry, Brandon Hogan, Anthony Leonard and Chris Neild. Thomas is hosting a fundraiser on Saturday at Buffalo Wild Wings in Suncrest Towne Center from 3 to 7 p.m. following the WVU men’s basketball game vs. Louisville. Prizes will also be given away. All proceeds from Saturday’s event will go to the Epilepsy Foundation.

This is the second-to-last stop on Thomas’ “Ready Ready Road Trip,” which started in his hometown on Ft. Lauderdale, Fla., and continued across eastern United States. Along the way, Thomas and a group of volunteers stopped at epilepsy centers.

“It will be great to have everyone possible to come out, eat some wings, get some autographs,” Thomas said.

This year’s road trip took Thomas through Chicago. Once in the city, Thomas surprised 14-year old Anthony Granberry, who suffers from epilepsy, with Super Bowl tickets. Granberry, his mother and Thomas went to last Sunday’s Super Bowl between the New York Giants and New England Patriots.

“He had a great time. We had a chance to bond even more. I’m glad that I had a chance to take him to the Super Bowl. It was truly an honor,” Thomas said.

Giving back to the community is something Thomas is used to doing; As a WVU football player, he would continually visit WVU Children’s Hospital. Special needs awareness hits close to him with him, as well, as his younger brother is autistic.

“Being around guys like Anthony and my little brother, you realize the little things that aren’t as important in life and those that are,” Thomas said. “Being happy, feeling love, being supported – those things really count in life. It’s not just so much about money or fame or things of that nature.”

While in Morgantown, Thomas will be visiting WVU Children’s Hospital the WVU Faculty/Staff Talent Show on Friday.

To donate to the J.T. Thomas Foundation, contact Rebecca Durst at 304-812-7714 or rdurst@gmail.com or www.jtthomasfoundation.org.

For more information on the Epilepsy Foundation, visit http://www.epilepsyfoundation.org/.



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