Steelers.com will bring you a regular feature throughout the season titled On the Sidelines where Teresa Varley will sit down with players and help you get to know them away from the game.
Wide receiver/kick returner Jeremy Bloom is a former United States Olympian who competed for the U.S. Ski Team in two Olympic Games, including Salt Lake City, Utah in 2002 and Turin, Italy in 2006. He also played college football at Colorado and is now working towards pursing his second dream of playing in the NFL.
Bloom grew up in a close family environment and recently launched a foundation named after his grandmother, the Donna Wheeler Foundation.
Bloom talks about that and other topics in this installment of On the Sidelines.
How old were you when you started in sports?
I was three. We grew up in Loveland, Colorado about three hours from a skiing area. My parents were big on having family time on the weekend. They enjoyed skiing. We went there every weekend and did it from a young age.
Was it something you enjoyed then?
I didnít like skiing at that age. I didnít take a huge interest in it. My mom was health food conscious and we didnít have a lot of candy bars and things like that in the house. My grandfather would bring a bunch of candy bars and throw them down the mountain and my brother and I would ski down and get them and that made it fun for me.
When did you start playing football?
I was a big Denver Broncos fan, I big John Elway fan. I was about that same age when my dad and I would throw the football around in the back yard every day. I always wanted to be in the National Football League one day.
As a former Olympian, are you watching the summer games?
The two sports I like the most are probably track and field and gymnastics. I will really watch when those are on. Itís fun to have the perspective and know what they are going through, whatís going on in there heads. When you walk in for the opening ceremonies it is a tremendous honor. It takes me back to my two experiences and how special they were. I look at it from a different perspective than most.
Can you talk about what the Opening Ceremonies were like when you took part?
Itís magical especially the first one in Salt Lake City because it was in our country, it was right after the September 11 attacks and our country was unified. The Olympics was very symbolic to unifying the whole world at that time. It was my first Olympics representing the United States. We were the last country to come in and they announced the United States of America and the whole place erupted. It was magical. I didnít feel like it was reality.
You launched your foundation this offseason, can you talk about why you named it after your grandmother?
She lived with us growing up. She was like a second mother to me. My grandparents have always been very special to me. Iíve always wanted to do something for senior citizens through a foundation. This off-season I was able to put the right pieces together for the foundation.
She is an inspiration to everyone she comes in contact with. She has such a positive outlook on life. She is 82 and lives in Keystone, Colorado, about 7,000 feet up in the mountains. And she goes to work every day. I donít know how she lives in that cold weather. Itís like 20 below when she gets up and drives to work in the morning. I couldnít do that. She is amazing. She is a greeter at the bank and volunteers.
What is the focus of the foundation?
We target low income seniors that have a wish, one thing in their life that they have always wanted to do that they have never been able to do and we try to make that wish come true. The goal is to help people and change their lives. Itís a Wish of a Lifetime we are trying to grant.
We want everyone that this inspires who has an important, mother, grandmother, father or grandfather and they want to honor them we encourage them to join us.
For more information visit http://www.donnawheelerfoundation.org/