Sam Acho is more than just a hard-hitting linebacker for the Chicago Bears. He’s a true philanthropist who believes giving back to others off the field is as important as excelling for his football team.
The 28-years-old outside linebacker is going into his third season with the Bears and their team goal is to be a “the best defense in the league.” Being the best comes with hard work, discipline and commitment — traits that seem like second nature for Acho.
Acho has been working hard to not only make a name for himself in the NFL, but to also leave his mark off the gridiron by making a real difference to those in need.
It all started when he was 15 years old and accompanied his parents on a missionary trip to Nigeria.
“My parents are missionaries — Dad’s a pastor and Mom’s a doctor — and every summer they go to Nigeria and do medical mission work,” Acho says. “I’m 28, they started this ministry 29 years ago, so I was almost born into it, I was in the womb and my parents were doing this.”
Acho’s parents are the founders of Living Hope Christian Ministries, which organizes a medical mission to Nigeria annually. They provide much-needed medical supplies to the people of Nigeria as well as training material and workshops for local pastors.
“I bring teammates with me, we just come and we serve, crowd control, carry bags, help set up and we’re just giving, giving and giving,” Acho says.
Despite the joy and the feeling of accomplishment he gets from the LHCM mission trips, just going every year wasn’t enough.
Nigeria has a population of approximately 186 million people and more than two-thirds of Nigerians are living on less than a dollar a day. Going on mission trips every year for only two weeks, despite serving and helping as many as 5,000 patients in three different villages and doing over 100 surgeries, left LHCM and the Acho family feeling like they could do more.
“Even despite that, when we leave it feels like we left this void,” he says. “My parents had this dream of building something more permanent, so when we go we’ll have a facility we use instead of abandoned buildings.”
To fill that void and “by the grace of God,” the LHCM built the Living Hope Medical Center, a clinic in Nigeria that’s open year round.
During the event, you can wine and dine during a cocktail hour, followed by a three-course meal, all served by some of your favorite Chicago Bears. You’ll also have the chance to bid on fabulous prizes during the silent auction. All proceeds from the event will go directly to the Living Hope Medical Center.
Acho goal is to raise $100,000 to $150,000 during this event and the proceeds will go toward expanding the medical center. They hope to create a women’s center, doctors’ quarters to facilitate hiring more doctors, and to make improvements to the existing clinic.
Last year, Sam Acho was the Chicago Bears’ nomination for the Walter Payton Man of the Year Award, which honors a player’s charity and volunteer work along with their play on the field. With all the good work Acho continues do, we think he’ll remain a worthy candidate for years to come.
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Darnell Pearson is a grad student at Medill School of Journalism at Northwestern University. He’s been a contributor to Make It Better since September 2016. In his free time he enjoys working out, watching movies and watching sports. Darnell is also a senior manager and mentor at Kidz Express, a nonprofit youth program on the west side of Chicago.