Los Angeles Chargers running back Melvin Gordon didn’t always want to be a football player.
While growing up in Kenosha, Wis., he considered becoming a doctor.
“I wanted to help people,” Gordon said. “My mom was a nurse, and my parents always helped people growing up. They always were letting people stay over for a couple of days or helped somebody with food.”
Then football came along.
“I didn’t take sports too seriously until sophomore year of high school,” Gordon said. “I loved the game, and I was pretty good at it, and they pay well at the next level. I decided this is going to be my way to eat.”
But the affinity to help never left Gordon. Football has become a platform for his charity.
Gordon recently launched his new foundation, Beyond the Flash, to combat childhood hunger and provide educational opportunities for underprivileged youth in Orange County and Los Angeles. Though the team plays in Carson, the Chargers are based in Costa Mesa.
Gordon, nicknamed “Flash Gordon,” chose the name of the foundation because it denotes hopefulness in the face of struggle.
“I want people to know there is more beyond what you see,” Gordon said. “If you are in a bad place and don’t have much food, that doesn’t mean it will be forever. You will move beyond that. I didn’t picture myself being here right now.”
Gordon held his first event on Dec. 15 in partnership with the Boys & Girls Clubs of Central Orange Coast and Second Harvest Food Bank. He passed out food and made crafts with children while sporting a Santa hat at a Boys & Girls Club in Santa Ana.
Gordon attended his local Boys & Girls Club while growing up.
He said he was taken aback when he first learned of the scale of hunger and homelessness in Orange County.
“It’s crazy because you are in your own little world sometimes and oblivious to what is going on,” Gordon said. “When I came out here, I thought it was a wealthy area. Then we sat down with our board members and they told us what was going on with the hunger and who was hurting. Then it kind of shocks you a little bit.