The list of career accomplishments for University of Alabama coach Nick Saban has grown longer and longer since he first arrived in Tuscaloosa in 2007. The list of work done by the Nick’s Kids Foundation is growing, too.
The official charity of Nick and Terry Saban helped break ground in July on a new classroom facility at the Tuscaloosa Juvenile Detention Center. It dedicated a 17th Habitat for Humanity House in Tuscaloosa earlier this summer to commemorate Alabama’s 17th national championship. The organization has also helped with numerous other projects in recent years around Tuscaloosa.
“Very seldom (in coaching) that you can say ‘This is our 12th annual anything,’” Terry Saban said. “But this is our 12th annual Nick’s Kids luncheon.”
The luncheon at Bryant-Denny Stadium on Thursday distributed more than $500,000 to organizations benefitting children.
It’s become an annual rite of summer for the luncheon to mark the start of fall football practice at Alabama. Players reported for camp on Thursday before the first practice on Friday. About a dozen current players sat and signed autographs for children attending the luncheon.
“I think this is a great lesson for players, to learn how to give back to the community, to set a good example,” Nick Saban said. “I think they all feel really good when they do something like this. Everybody has a lot of pressure on them to do a lot of things, whether it’s academically or whether it’s creating an image as a person, whether it’s football-related… So to be able to do something like this, I think the players really enjoy it. … It’s an opportunity to be around players when you’re not in a meeting or coaching or on the field. I think that really helps understand them.”
The charity is named for Nick Saban Sr., the father of the Alabama coach who built a reputation for helping children in his community in West Virginia. Children and volunteers at the event also had the chance to take a photograph with Saban at the luncheon.
“Growing up… I think we all want our parents to be proud of what we do,” Saban said. “I know my dad probably would have a little pride in what we’ve been able to accomplish professionally in coaching, but I think he would be most proud of what we do here. This is something that was really, really important to him.”
The event is one of the annual highlights for the charity. The luncheon honors local volunteers and community members. It’s also an annual reminder of what Nick’s Kids has accomplished in the last year.
“This has grown into something beyond even what we thought, to be able to accomplish the projects that we’ve been able to accomplish in the community,” Saban said. “Whether it’s Brewer Porch, building the juvenile detention center classroom, the 17 for 17 houses that we’ve partnered with Habitat for Humanity. To be able to give away what’s grown into a half-million dollars a year at this event, I never really imagined that it would happen this way. I really do think that Miss Terry has been the driving force behind this in terms of figuring out great projects and things that people love to support.”
Reach Ben Jones at firstname.lastname@example.org or 205-722-0196.