Facing the Big Ten’s best quarterbacks and running backs is one thing.
But nothing has caused quite the same moment of anxiousness in Wisconsin linebacker Jordan Turner as this: setting an ambitious goal of $1,000 for his first fundraiser.
Turner, a redshirt sophomore with six tackles and two interceptions last season, is perhaps not (yet) a household name for a powerhouse team. He is known, certainly, for his potential, but not known enough, necessarily, to woo donations for The Road Home and its summer backpack drive for kids in need.
And then his mom, Carol Turner, told him to make the goal of $1,000.
“He said, 'Mom! How did you get to this!' " Carol said via phone from her home in Michigan. “We were talking about it on the phone, and he said, 'Mom, really?'
“I said, you can do this and I said, you can use your platform. Out there people are learning about you. And when you do good things, people will support you.”
Turner took the chance. It’s not just in his nature, it’s in his bloodline.
Carol Turner was president of the Madison chapter of the Alpha Kappa Alpha sorority while she was a student at UW in the early 1980s. And part of her mission was to lead for the service-oriented organization.
It's a role she has embraced and continued her entire life, and one she included in the young lives of her sons, Brandon and Jordan.
“I've been an active member of the sorority for over 40 years now,” Carol said. “Basically, I've been doing community service all my life.
“And about eight years ago, I was on the international committee for my sorority, and we planned all of the programs. We helped plan all the programs for 1,000-plus chapters across the world. One of the initiatives back then was 1 million backpacks, so we distributed across the world over 1 million backpacks.”
"She really cares about school," said Jordan, a personal finance major. "I asked her about it a couple years ago. And she told me, she just feels like anyone should have an even start when it comes to school. Like you know, not everybody can buy all the supplies."
The boys were always involved.
“Extra hands are always needed,” Carol said. “So it was just a part of where I wanted to expose them, but teach them that you don't have to be rich. You know, if you have some time, and you have some skills and talents and things like that, you can share it with people and help others.”
The Road Home has closed its online donation window for Turner’s specific backpack cause but can still take general donations. The donors who supported Turner raised $1,800.
"I was like, actually, there's actually people that do care and still donate,” he said. “So that was kind of neat, boosted my confidence."
On Saturday at Brittingham Park in Madison, Turner will give away approximately 100 backpacks filled with school supplies to children who have moved from homelessness into housing.
"I'm going to bring my teammates to come help me,” Turner said. "Because you know, it's the summertime now and I am in a position to give back. That's how as I was raised.”
Message Lori Nickel on Twitter at @LoriNickel, Instagram at @bylorinickel or Facebook at https://www.facebook.com/ChinUpLoriNickel
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This article originally appeared on Milwaukee Journal Sentinel: Wisconsin linebacker Jordan Turner reaching out to help others in need