Former Green Bay Packer LeRoy Butler talks about his transition from football to philanthropy
LeRoy Butler is, simply put, a Wisconsin treasure. He was a Green Bay Packer from 1990 to 2001, inventor of the Lambeau Leap, and will be inducted into the Pro Football Hall of Fame this summer.
Yet, for all his accomplishments in football, he’s also well known as a philanthropist supporting various causes throughout Wisconsin and nationally. As a child, Butler had a physical disability, experienced poverty, and other challenges that could have been obstacles to his success. Still, his story continues to inspire people of all ages today.
LeRoy Butler will be the guest speaker at the Jewish Family Services Hope, Help and Healing Gala Wednesday evening. Ahead of that, he shares more about what motivates his work today, starting with his transition from football to philanthropy.
"That's one thing I liked about moving to Wisconsin. I was able to do that [philanthropy] on a bigger platform since I played here. I could have gone back to Florida and did it, but it'd been difficult to reestablish all those connections," says Butler.
Now that he will be inducted into the Pro Football Hall of Fame, Butler says many doors have opened that have inspired him to think of something other than football.
Butler says it was his mom who first inspired in him the importance of helping others.
Butler says he supports things that he can relate to, such as mental health and causes that pertain to race. Additionally, Butler advocates for causes such as autism and breast cancer, which his son and daughter have, respectively. Other health concerns he advocates for are colon cancer and heart disease.
"I try to support things that I can relate to. Mental health to me is probably in the top three because I had dealt with it my whole life because [I was] always told something negative. Every day, 'you can't do this, you're not going to do this. [Or] your'e African American and you're not going to do this' and racist stuff all the time," says Butler.
Butler notes that the Jewish community is a big fabric of who he is as a person, dating back to him bonding with a Jewish friend over discrimination experiences they both had in the third grade.
When Butler was drafted, the two reconnected and revitalized the bond they once had in elementary school. Butler happily recounts that just three weeks ago they both shared with his friends' children how the friendship started over 40 years ago.