LAS VEGAS (KTNV) — Darren Waller is used to making defenders' lives miserable on the football field but today he announced a partnership that's intended to save lives.
The Raiders' Pro Bowl tight end announced a new partnership today between his foundation and Landmark Recovery.
Waller got to meet with three patients who are now in recovery from drug and alcohol addiction all thanks to new grants from his foundation.
"It's not about being right all the time or being perfect. It's just about improving day after day after day and knowing that, 'I don't want to go back to where I was.' I still have that sense of urgency from when I first got clean. I still want to do everything that I can to not only not go back to where I was, but you never know how many people y'all will be able to help as you continue on your journey. So, I'm just proud of y'all for taking this step and I wish you nothing but the best going forward," Waller said to the three grant recipients.
It wasn't long ago that they were hooked on heroin or meth, living on the streets of Las Vegas or in prison. But Waller gave them a way out and a road to recovery.
"I'm just super grateful. You showed us that there is someone who cares. There's at least one person in Vegas who cares. He doesn't even know me, but he cares. I was just happy that I got a second chance to go somewhere and really learn what I need to learn to not go back to drugs. And so far, in the two weeks I've been here, I've learned a lot. If it wasn't for this grant, I probably wouldn't have made it," they told Waller.
The grants are targeted toward struggling addicts ages 18-26. They cover the cost of a 30-day treatment stay at Landmark Recovery for young people who can't otherwise afford it.
"You see, since the pandemic started, an 1100% increase in overdoses. So yeah, I really feel the community needs something like this. And if it's going to be anybody, why not be me?" said Waller.
This partnership is personal for Waller, who overcame opioid addiction himself. He's been sober now for the past four years.
"I've been in their position. I know what they may be feeling, the anxieties they may be feeling coming to treatment. They may be battling their egos a little bit like, 'Why am I here? Why do I really need this?' I felt those same emotions, but making myself uncomfortable time and time again and seeing that discomfort turn into true freedom and true transformation in my life, I want these people to be able to see that for themselves," Waller said.
Waller is just getting started with what he's calling the "Against The Wall" program. He's pledged eight of these grants by early 2022. He says his foundation is ahead of schedule and credits donations from the Las Vegas community.
The goal of the Darren Waller Foundation is to equip young people to avoid and overcome drug and alcohol addiction in the Las Vegas valley.