Myles Bryant knew he wanted to participate in the NFL's My Cause, My Cleats initiative this year. He thought long and hard about the cause part, though.
The New England Patriots defensive back wanted the organization to be local to either Foxborough, the Boston area, or his native Pasadena, California, but nothing instantly came to mind. Finally, the idea hit him.
"All of a sudden, I just had that idea. What about an organization that I've actually spent time with?," Bryant said. "I've given time to them and they've given back to me. How about I represent Ability First? That was just something that popped into my head and I couldn't believe I haven't been thinking about this the whole time."
Ability First serves to create a welcoming environment for individuals with developmental disabilities and their families. Their facility was a short drive from Bryant's home, and he became acquainted with the organization thanks to mandatory community service hours required to attend Loyola High School of Los Angeles.
Every Friday during his freshman and sophomore years were spent there, helping kids with disabilities engage in sports and other activities.
"As a high school kid, you just want to go home Friday after school," Bryant admitted. "The weekend is here and you can do whatever you want, but I was spending that time volunteering. At first, I wished I was doing anything else, but that time there made me realize how much joy you can get bringing joy to other people."
In other words, Ability First gave back to Bryant the same way he gave back to them. Now that he has a platform as a player in the NFL, he wanted to brighten the spotlight on the organization that gave him perspective.
"It made me more grateful," Bryant said. "Just grateful for the situation I have. I think we take for granted how blessed all of us are, being in perfect health. A lot of them had heart disabilities or different brain disorders and you would see how they had to manage around that just in their everyday lives. It made me grateful, but also more open in terms of treating everyone with the same approach not judging anyone. They were some of the nicest people I've ever met, so it just opened my eyes to all the beauty in life and being more cognizant of other people's situations."
Learn more about Ability First and the other organizations being represented by the Patriots for My Cause, My Cleats.