Muhammad Wilkerson football camp Manish Gosalia submitted

Children of all ages can count on an assist from this NFL all-star.

New York Jets defensive end Muhammad Wilkerson backed by fellow teammates and his foundation, T.E.A.M. 96, are always lending a hand to young, aspiring athletes, hungry families, and breast cancer survivors.

T.E.A.M. 96, named for his jersey number, offers scholarship-based awards to students in Wilkerson’s hometown of Linden, New Jersey, giving $1,000 towards college expenses. This year, 13 students have received the financial aid—but the most fun part for Wilkerson is getting to play in the dirt with the kids.

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Students who attend Linden High School, Wilkerson’s alma mater, can take part in his youth football camp and receive personalized, one-on-one coaching from the all-star and some of his teammates.

“The night before, we always go bowling, and the next day, we play,” he told Good News Network. “Everyone is always really excited. They’re used to seeing me, though, because I’m always coming back to the community.”

Wilkerson during practice with kid football camp Manish Gosalia submitted
Photos by Manish Gosalia

Next month, they’ll see him around the old neighborhood handing out Thanksgiving turkeys at his old Head Start preschool.

Earlier today, he honored 96 breast cancer survivors at a three-course luncheon not far from where he grew up nurtured by a mother who survived the disease.

Throughout his childhood Wilkerson watched his mother, a social worker, help other families get back on their feet; now a father of two toddlers, ages 1 and 3, Wilkerson says he hopes to set an example for his own kids about the importance of giving back.

“I try to be there in person to put a face to the foundation as often as I can,” he said. “I want them to know how important it is to me.”

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If you are in New York City next Monday, there are still a few tickets left for the T.E.A.M. 96 fundraiser (which stands for Togetherness, Education, Achievement, Motivation). They are hosting a dinner at Morton’s Grille that will feature NFL celebrity servers, a reception, and gift bags from the Jets.

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