When Kevin Boss does charity work with children in the United States, the kids are often overwhelmed by the opportunity to spend time with an NFL player.
In Haiti, children are overwhelmed by the attention of anyone who takes the time to care.
There, Kevin Boss, the NFL player, carried little clout. Boss the human being, however, won over the hearts of dozens of children from one of the world’s most needy areas.
Weeks after the versatile tight end signed with the Kansas City Chiefs after being a salary-cap casualty in Oakland, Boss made a trip that was much more life-changing than the simple exchange of NFL colors. Moving from the Silver and Black to Arrowhead Stadium all became so secondary to the harsh reality of third-world living when Boss fulfilled a longtime goal of visiting Haiti.
The Oregon native took a week-long mission trip to an orphanage in a small, poor mountain town in Haiti this spring with childhood friend Denny Bain and Tennessee Titans linebacker Tim Shaw. Bain runs a non-profit organization, lovinghaiti.org, that helps an orphanage and school in the country.
“It was incredible,” Boss said in a phone interview this week. “I’m already thinking about going back. I told my wife the Haitian people have most beautiful smile in the world. They don’t have much but the clothes on their backs, but they have their smile. They melt your heart.”
Boss and his party spent nearly their entire week at the orphanage, working, teaching and playing with about 35 parent-less children. They also did significant physical work to improve the living conditions, including helping to install solar panels because electricity is so unreliable in the area. Boss’ group also built a wall around the area to boost security. He also made a nearly day-long trek for food and supplies during the trip and went to several church services with the residents of the area.
Although he has more missionary work planned, Boss, 28, wants to return to the same orphanage because of the incredible bond he forged with the children during his short stay.
“We played and laughed every day,” Boss said. “Those kids could care less that I play in the NFL. They don’t even know what the NFL is; they just appreciate people who help them. They cherished the opportunity for help.”
Of course, Boss and Shaw did bring some footballs to the children, and tried to get some games going. Yet the kids always turned the pigskin games into matches of their more familiar soccer. “All they wanted to do was kick the ball,” Boss chuckled.
Shortly after signing in Kansas City, Boss asked the Chiefs to donate several team shirts and hats for the children in addition to other clothing, including 100 pairs of new athletic shoes. Although the children were wowed by the bright-red clothes, the Chiefs memorabilia will serve a purpose much more than the showing of team pride.
“These kids need anything we could have given them,” Boss said. “Those clothes are important. I saw some kids who were in the same clothes for the entire week we were there. … The kids would run around and play soccer in their bare feet in the gravel. We’d flinch because it looked like it would hurt, but they are used to it.”
Now that he is back Stateside, Boss is concentrating on being a key cog in the Kansas City offense. He will back up Tony Moeaki (and provide strong injury insurance for Moeaki, coming off of a torn ACL) and will play often in multiple-tight end sets.
Boss has already been praised by his new teammates for his leadership.
“I’m excited about Kevin Boss,” Kansas City quarterback Matt Cassel said this week. "He’s a guy that’s come in and worked very hard. He’s a true professional, and he’s learned the offense quite quickly. It’s great to not only have him out there on the field, but also his leadership in the locker room. There are a lot of young guys here that are watching him work and respect the fact that he can go out there and work extremely hard each and every day.”
Although Cassel is getting to know and appreciate Boss for his skills as an NFL player, there is a group of children a world away who appreciate him for merely being human.