Retired Cowboys center Travis Frederick tackles ending child hunger

Frederick's career has not been without its ups and downs (4:25)

Cowboys center Travis Frederick shares how he dealt with Guillain-Barre syndrome and how it impacted his career on the football field. (4:25)

Recently retired from the Dallas Cowboys, former All-Pro center Travis Frederick had to briefly think about the last time he wasn't preparing in the spring for a fall football season.

"I've been getting ready for football since, gosh, before high school," Frederick said. "It's like you've been doing it your whole life really."

His football work might be done now, but his life's work is not.

The coronavirus pandemic has affected the world, including isolating an area of need that took hold of Frederick when he drove around Dallas early in his career and witnessed childhood hunger. He started a foundation that is now called "The Blocking Hunger Foundation," with the idea of easing food insecurity for children all across the Dallas and Fort Worth, Texas, metroplex.

His foundation has helped feed thousands of children during the school year but is even more important in the summertime when schools are closed.

"Obviously more people are out of work, and more importantly children are out of school and a lot of them lost access to free meals," Frederick said. "If people don't have a job and can't continue to provide, we're definitely seeing an increase in demand."

Throughout the stay-at-home orders, students have still been able to utilize the foundation's Travis' Pantries and Nourish2Flourish programs to pick up food. Also, Frederick started the Moving the Chains to Block Hunger fundraiser that began on May 18 and runs through July 29, adding up to 72 days and matching his No. 72 Cowboys jersey. He hopes it will raise $22,500.

"You can feed a child for $2 a day," Frederick said. "The way we have set it up, we can feed over 10,000 children with that money."

Retiring at 29 was not part of Frederick's plan, but when he missed the 2018 season because of Guillain-Barré syndrome, an autoimmune disease that affects the nervous system, he thought of what the quality of his life would look like after football. He and his wife, Kaylee, have two young children. They are building a home in Wisconsin that will become their full-time residence.

Despite being named to the Pro Bowl in 2019 for the fifth time in the six seasons he played, Frederick says he has no regrets leaving the game of football.

"I was fortunate to get to do what I did for seven years and play for the Dallas Cowboys," Frederick said. "I'm just pleased and at ease with the time I spent there."

Frederick has kept in touch with former teammates, but his transition to retirement, in a way, has been made easier since The Star is closed and players can't work out together. While not as dramatic as the weight loss of former Baltimore Ravens guard Marshal Yanda, Frederick has dropped more than 30 pounds over the past few months.

"That's the dream, guys like Marshal and [former Browns center] Joe Thomas getting super skinny," Frederick said. "If you ask any O-lineman, they'll tell you that you either get bigger or get smaller. You don't stay the same. My goal is to get smaller. Much smaller. I've started to make my move, leaned things up. By the end of the season I'm usually 315, 320 [pounds]. I've been able to cut it down a little. I'm about 285."

He has changed his diet and has turned to more cardio than heavy weights. His clothes "are pretty close to falling off," dropping a shirt size as well as two ring sizes.

He has also shaved the furry beard that became his calling card.

"It's coming back, but it's definitely more cleaned and trimmed up," he said. "It's not the football beard. I had a responsibility to grow the beard because I had a job that allowed it. Once you step out into the business world, it's a little less acceptable to run around with."

Frederick said he was looking forward to getting into the business world, especially the tech side, using his degree from Wisconsin in engineering mechanics with an emphasis on computer engineering. But his foundation will always remain an important part of his life.

"If the foundation was to spin down, that means those kids who were not receiving food were not going to get food now," Frederick said, "and that's not an option for us."