Don Silvestri was a kicker for the New York Jets, Seattle Seahawks, and Buffalo Bills before retiring to South Florida – to work, not retire. Now president of Debt.com, Silvestri is also the treasurer of the NFL Players Association South Florida chapter as well as a founding director or Parkland Cares, which funds mental health counseling in the aftermath of the tragic shootings last year at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School.
In each of his roles, he’s had an abiding interest in helping children, whether it’s teaching them sound financial principles they’ll take with them throughout life or ensuring they have the therapy they need to overcome the trauma in their lives.
“On the news, there’s constantly tragedy and things happening, and a lot of times people just walk by,” Silvestri said. “I’ve never been one to walk by someone who needs help.”
To put it in perspective, if you’re on your way home and you see a kid fall off their bicycle and they’re crying, you’re going to walk up to them. And if you see they have a broken leg, you know what to do. You’ll bring them to a doctor. But rewind that, and you walk up to that kid and they say they’re having suicidal thoughts, what do you do?
Parkland Cares addresses that need, “but there’s a stigma about getting mental health therapy,” Silvestri says. “What we’re trying to do is provide free mental health counseling, suicide prevention and create more awareness about this social justice issue. We want folks to know help is available – and it’s OK to ask for it. It starts with everyone opening up the conversation more.”
People who wish to help support Don’s effort can visit ParklandCares.org