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CHICAGO – Akiem Hicks doesn’t make many trips to the city these days.

“It’s either to play football or to come see my friends at the Boys & Girls Club.”

Monday it was the latter.

The heart of the Bears defense spent his day off delivering new sneakers to kids at the Pedersen-McCormick Boys & Girls Club in Uptown.

Hicks is no stranger to events like these, but he knows giving back matters now more than even.

“Normally it’s of great importance. But in these situations now with the things that have transpired in our country as of late, it’s important to be a giver, man. To be a person that thinks of others before themselves. To be someone that can be counted on. I enjoy doing these type of events and being out in my community and showing people that there’s somebody that’s got your back. There is somebody that believes in you. Especially for children, I think they’re having the hardest time.”

Hicks is excited the shoes will go to good use with families spending more time outside due to the pandemic.

With safety protocols in place, he couldn’t personally hand them out, but Hicks hopes his presence and words of encouragement send a message.

“There is an athlete that’s in your community that’s a part of your life and wants to be a positive role model for you. The first professional athlete I met, I was 19 years old. It would have been great to have that experience early on to show me that was something I could reach for. I try to be that person.”

The donation will outfit 150 kids in Chicago. It comes courtesy of a $15,000 UnitedHealthcare grant to the Dreambuilders Foundation.