With the NFL Draft here, the Chicago Bears and the NFL allowed fans to participate and interact at the event on Thursday, April 29, in Cleveland, Ohio.
This year, the Bears hold the 20th pick in the Draft and featured Chicagoan Carlos Nelson (Health Disparities) of the Greater Auburn Gresham community to announce the team’s pick on Thursday night on the ESPN network.
“The NFL Draft provides an exciting opportunity for fans to get involved with their favorite team by announcing selections from the Draft Theater in Cleveland, as well as remotely,” said the NFL in a statement.
“This year, the fans joining Round 1 picks with Commissioner Roger Goodell have shown an unwavering commitment to bridging the digital divide, working in the fight against food insecurity, raising awareness about mental health, and working to reduce health disparities. The Draft-a-Thon, the NFL’s accompanying fundraiser to raise awareness and action to address pandemic recovery and our hardest hit communities, will focus on those four areas.”
Nelson, a resident and member of the Greater Auburn Gresham Development Corporation (GAGDC), was awarded the opportunity for serving his neighborhood, where the first COVID-19 cases and deaths were announced in Chicago.
In addition to being the first community in Chicago to deal with COVID-19 cases, Nelson’s community also dealt with tremendous health disparities and had no accessible health care facilities in the neighborhood for many years.
After recognizing the issue, Nelson decided to work, design and gather support for a community revitalization plan. This was centered around creating a Healthy Lifestyle Hub to provide a home for a Federally Qualified Health Center.
His vision came to life last summer after his plan was awarded a $10 million inaugural Chicago Prize by the Pritzker Traubert Foundation for the project. Since then, Nelson’s Healthy Lifestyle Hub is now becoming a reality; construction began in March, 2021, doors are scheduled to open in early 2022.
Nelson continues to fundraise and support the GAGDC’s work around health equity and economic development issues in the community.