One week after being named the Browns’ Walter Payton Man of the Year Award nominee, Joel Bitonio was back out in the Cleveland community offering kids a special treat for the holidays.
Bitonio hosted 50 children from the City of Cleveland Recreation Centers during a "Shop with a Pro" event at Meijer in Avon on Monday as part of the Browns' continued effort to give back throughout the holiday season. Bitonio, joined by his wife, Courtney, and teammates, volunteered during Day 7 of Browns Give Back's "10 Days of Giving" by helping kids purchase holiday presents, with each child receiving $170 to spend on themselves, family and friends.
The holiday shopping spree was made possible through the generosity of Bitonio and Courtney, as well as support from Meijer.
"From the start I think the toy section was the most popular," Bitonio said with a smile. "It was a little hectic at first, but it was a great experience and the kids all got to pick what they wanted. We had to do some math over there, but it was really exciting to see the kids run through the sections."
Bitonio was joined by several of his teammates, including Miller Forristall, Wyatt Teller, Tyrone Wheatley, Joe Haeg, Greg Mancz, Michael Dunn, Ethan Pocic, Jacoby Brissett, Dawson Deaton and Drew Forbes, who all walked and assisted the kids as they excitedly explored their gift options.
"It's huge that my teammates came out here and supported me," Bitonio said. "The Browns always do a great job of coming out in the community, but to have your teammates come out and support the kids and city of Cleveland is really special. They took time out of their day's off, and it really means a lot to me."
Bitonio's event commemorated the Browns' celebration on Day 7 of “10 Days of Giving," where Browns players, coaches and staff will participate in special community events from Dec. 6-15 and make meaningful donations to deserving organizations or individuals as part of the team's yearlong commitment to education, youth football and social justice initiatives, inspiring others through its signature First and Ten volunteering movement.