“A journey of a thousand miles starts with a single step.”
Former Cleveland Browns offensive lineman and Pro Football Hall of Famer Joe DeLamielleure has turned the message of Chinese philosopher Lao Tzu into a mission to help those less fortunate. Taking that first step toward the Pro Football Hall of Fame and Museum in Canton, Ohio, from the 50-yard line of Ralph Wilson Stadium in Orchard Park, N.Y., will raise awareness for Grace’s LAMP, a charity founded by Joey Funderburk and his family to help children with prosthetics, as well as those in need of adoption.
“This January, I met Joey, and it was the first time I met a kid that was born like that,” DeLamielleure recalled. “He just started telling me about the cost of prosthetics and how some people can’t get them.”
Following the meeting with Funderburk, DeLamielleure called Joe Horrigan, the Hall of Fame’s Vice President of Communications/Exhibits and told him of the plan to help Grace’s LAMP. The acronym LAMP stands for “Love, adoption, mission and prosthetics.”
In preparing for the 213-mile walk, which will begin on July 10 and finish in Canton on the 20th, DeLamielleure wakes up at 5:15 a.m., walks to St. Matthew Catholic Church for 7 a.m. Mass, and then, makes the five-mile trek back home. In all, he gets in 10-plus miles of road work before 9 a.m.
“I told (Horrigan) I was going to walk, and I thought I was going to do it for a shoe bank or something,” DeLamielleure said. “I really want to do this for prosthetics. It’s like an offensive lineman, nobody ever hears about these people who have prosthetics. It’s a whole population out there that I want to bring awareness to. That’s why I’m going to walk from Buffalo because that’s where I started.”
Helping those less fortunate is not something new to DeLamielleure.
In addition to being the adopted father of two boys, DeLamielleure joined two of his roommates from Michigan State University and bicycled 2,000 miles from the 50-yard line at Spartan Stadium to Mexico, where the three started an orphanage five years ago.
“I could never really get involved with a charity and not do something,” DeLamielleure said. “I give my time and make it special for the kids. When they know you’re really passionate about something, people appreciate it. There are a lot of guys that lend their name to something and then, just write them a check. I don’t want to do that.
“We want to help everybody that we can. I get a kick out of this because this is physical fitness. If you do something that can help you stay physically fit, and then, you can help other people, then, it’s really a winner.”