King's student-athlete giving back while sports are sidelined
March 15, 2021
With some spare time on his hands over last year’s Christmas holiday season, Curtis Fortune, a first year Childhood and Social Institutions student and a fullback on the Western Mustang’s men’s football team, helped to collect 57,196 socks to help London’s less fortunate.
Having come from the village of Staffordville, Fortune says he was always taught to help others in the community whenever he could. When he first moved to London, he was not sure how he could help make a difference. That changed when his cousin, Allison DeBlaire, a founder of 519Pursuit, reached out to him about helping with organization’s annual sock drive.
“I knew this was a perfect way to help make a difference. When you give back to your community, you get a good feeling inside, and it is something you want to continue to do. Not only because it makes you feel good but because you are making a massive difference in someone else's life,” says Fortune.
His teammates agreed with him. Fortune received support from the Western Mustangs football team and the London Junior Mustangs organization and says teamwork was a major key to the success of the sock drive.
519Pursuit’s annual sock drive, which began in 2017, took place from October 1 – November 15, 2020. After the collection process, the pairs of socks were made into care packages and distributed to local community services and shelters.
Fortune feels that it is important for him, as a varsity athlete, to give back to the community.
“Without our community, game days would not be the same. Their constant love and support are a significant factor in our program's success and continues to be. In our community, many individuals need help, and as someone who is in a position to assist others, I feel that it is our responsibility to do so. It is crucial everyone feels they are loved and cared for in our community,” says Fortune.
The sock drive provides individuals with more than just a donation. Fortune and his teammates also engaged in conversations, allowing them to learn more about the homeless in London. He says his teammates “did a fantastic job at spreading awareness on the issue of homelessness, having those tough conversations, and, most importantly, gathering donations. Without the teamwork, I do not think we would have the success we did,” says Fortune.
Fortune says there are many advantages to be gained from taking part in an initiative such as the sock drive. “Stepping up and taking the initiative with something like this can be difficult, but the relationships you gain throughout the process with fellow players and coaches make the process much more comfortable,” he says.
Fortune’s efforts in supporting the sock drive also gained the attention of the Western Gazette.