New England Patriots linebacker Matthew Judon is thriving as a defensive standout for this year’s team, but there’s more to his story than just football. A recent Providence Journal profile highlighted the life-changing summers Judon spent working at Camp Sunshine, a Michigan camp for people with mild-to-moderate disabilities.
Despite some unique challenges—Judon is 6’3” and had to sleep on two mattresses—he describes the camp as life-changing. Judon even returned with his college teammates to volunteer at the camp after his first time. The camp’s director recalled Judon’s time there fondly. Per the Providence Journal:
"So Matt Judon had his own camper and Matt would sleep on the top bunk and then a camper would sleep on the lower bunk, and 24/7, they were together. They ate together. They did arts and crafts together, did their sports, did their spiritual stories, did everything together, all their free time and so on. This is a partnership.
Judon needed to put two beds together because he didn't fit on a twin mattress, but he made it work. By the end, he was on stage dancing during his camper’s talent show. He became so enamored by the experience, he volunteered his time again the next summer in 2015.
“You just kind of fall in love with camp and the idea of you giving your undivided attention to a person with needs,” Judon said. “You know a lot of people with disabilities, and my two campers, they actually helped me learn lessons and helped me out as much as I was helping them.”
The story continues:
"Judon learned a lot about himself, too. For a man who creates chaos on the football field, he found a gentler side to himself. He discovered the joy that comes with helping people. He thinks about the experience and says it helped him become a better father to his daughter, Aniyah, and son, Leonidas."
Judon signed with the Patriots as a free agent this year. Previously, he played for the Baltimore Ravens, and has been a Pro Bowler twice in his career.
Learn how Nonotuck developed a love-based ideology of care. We started our shared living program as an alternative to group homes for people with disabilities. Instead, Shared Living creates genuine life transformation for people with disabilities, as well as families and communities. The true power of caregiving is found through hospitality, authenticity, and love.