I know what it feels like to be abandoned. I know what it feels like to not be accepted. And for our children to be in those kinds of situations and to know that both Cindy and I can not only give them a home, but to be able to give them a family of someone who loves them and cares for them, it’s the most beautiful thing in the world. Football changed me in many, many different ways. First of all, it became my family. My name is John Shinsky. I got started in football In a little league program when I went to my foster family’s home, outside of Cleveland, Ohio. My junior year in high school, I started excelling in sports. I was receiving letters from various universities that were interested in me, and then, in my senior year, I received a full football scholarship. Every time he stepped on the field, every time he put on his pads, every time he went through any drill or element of the game, he was always totally committed to that particular activity that we were doing. this, this big, tough guy, had the biggest heart and was concerned about everybody, and a tremendous teammate. This is, this is Parmadale, the orphanage that I went to. We all lived together in one floor. It was just a whole different culture. Toughest kid ruled, you followed the rules, you did what you needed to do. But at the same time, you know, I ended up making friends with a lot of these guys here. I was born in Lorain, Ohio on November fifth, 1951. At age eight, my father passed away, and at that time, that was quite challenging for me. But even the more challenging thing that happened was, I lost my entire family, because at that point, my mother couldn’t take care of me. One day, my mom told me that there’s going to be a couple of guys picking me up and taking me to a place to stay for a while. And there were two men, they came and got me, and I had a little luggage, and I got in the car, and drove away, and that was it. When I turned eighteen, I went back to Lorain, Ohio and knocked on my house door to re-meet my mom. And I said, “Mom, I need to ask you a question.” And then I said, “Why did you give me up?” And she said, “I gave you up because I loved you more than I loved myself.” The sacrifice that my mom made to give me up so that I could have a better life really makes this special. It isn’t something you could script out. It’s just the way my life unfolded. If you’re in a good place where you are today, and you’ve been able to not only become somebody of value but also be able to make contributions with your life, then everything that happened during your life during that time contributed to it, as happy or as sad as it is. Oh! I chose to go back down to Parmadale, the orphanage, because I wanted to see where I came from. I said, “Dear God, I’ve been so blessed, to be able to have a college degree, to be able to play football, to be able to now be employed.” I said, “Someday I want to be able to build a home for kids just like me.” When John told me he wanted to open an orphanage, quite frankly, I thought he was a little crazy. But he was very persistent, and it was, you know, “Someday I’m going to open an orphanage.” I was doing some consulting in Texas, and I sat next to a young man on a plane, and I said, “What are you doing?” “Oh,” he says, “I’m going on spring break, and I’m going to work at this orphanage down in Mexico.” John said to the young man, “Send me some pictures, send me some information about it.” I went down and visited that orphanage, and as I was talking to the people, I said to them, “What can I do to help you?” And they said, “We need a new orphanage.” And when they said that, I knew that was the calling. There’s always a constant struggle with getting enough resources to fund the orphanage. TIAA has done a wonderful job of helping my husband and I invest our money in a way that we can help fund the orphanage into perpetuity. I tell our children every time I see them that education is the equalizer for them. They’ve had challenges in their life, but by having a quality education, that equalizes them to their peers. Our children at the orphanage understand that we’re not just investing into them for today, we’re investing into them for tomorrow, and that they’re going to get good quality education, they’re going to be able to get jobs, they’re going to become productive citizens, and they’re ultimately going to contribute back to the orphanage and contribute back to helping children just like them.