Bradley and Nikki Bozeman’s charitable journey began at the University of Alabama.Bradley, center for Alabama’s storied football team and Nikki, women’s basketball center, were both bullied as kids and wanted to make a difference. They were approached by a member of the community outreach team because they had received word of a girl being severely bullied at a local middle school. The team asked the couple to send a message to the little girl. Bradley and Nikki both had the same day off that week (which never happens) so they decided to do one better and visit the little girl at school and eat lunch with her. When they both arrived at the school the principal approached them at their vehicle. He said, “I️ hope you don’t mind but we set up a school assembly for you to talk with the students about anti-bullying.” At the time Nikki was very outgoing and loved public speaking so she happily agreed, but Bradley on the other hand looked like he had just seen a ghost. He was terrified of public speaking due to being bullied for a speech impediment as a child. Nikki encouraged him that it was for the kids and that everything would go just fine. What the two didn’t know was that they would go pour their hearts out to these students and hold close to a three hour assembly where kids would share their stories of troubles at home and attempted suicides and the couple would help mentor and give advice to these students who so desperately needed a friend. When getting back to the car after that assembly Bradley and Nikki looked at each other with tears in their eyes and knew that this is what they were meant to do.
After this day Bradley and Nikki traveled the state of Alabama visiting elementary through high school students to talk about the dangers of bulling and the importance of accepting differences in others.They were able to talk to 26 schools in the month of April before the 2018 NFL Draft. Bradley, who was drafted by the Baltimore Ravens, along with Nikki set out to strengthen communities in their new hometown, one school at a time.
During Bradley and Nikki’s time in Baltimore they were able to talk to over 100,000 students visiting hundreds of schools which even included a cross country tour. The couple was currently living in a RV full time when they began to receive requests from schools all over the country to speak about anti-bullying. They knew it was not feasible to travel to Texas and California and Arizona all to just visit one school at a time. So while eating dinner in their RV the couple decided they would take their home on wheels around the country to spread their anti-bullying message. Their tour would leave from Baltimore Maryland and travel down to Georgia all the way across the United States to California and back and be sponsored by non other than Camping World and NASCAR! Throughout this trip they were able to talk to students from big schools, small schools, lower income, higher income, rural schools and city schools. Bradley and Nikki were able to talk to over 10,000 students in 18 different states before they were abruptly stopped because of Covid-19.
With the arrival of COVID-19, their anti-bullying campaign was cut short on March 18th 2020. Their trip was cut short by three stops but their desire to give back was higher than ever. When they returned home they quickly realized that touring schools would not be an option for a while so they set their sights on other ways to help their community. The couple through their website portal, designed for kids to reach out needing help or advice or just to talk, were getting messages from kids within Baltimore City who did not have any food because of the school closures. Bradley and Nikki knew they had to act fast and started to call local legislators, teachers, and prominent people within the Baltimore community. They quickly formed a panel who helped guide and educate them on the scary reality of food insecurity that was plaguing their city. Bradley and Nikki got right to work calling local grocery stores and supply chains but much like the rest of the world found out, there was no extra supplies anywhere. The couple decided to purchase food from their local retailer and package the food themselves. They decided to host a family food drive each Tuesday at 1pm which would supply the families with around 25-30 pounds of food ranging from milk and eggs to fresh produce and supplies for spaghetti and Peanut butter and jelly sandwiches! They both went into the heart of the city with the help of the local police department who secured a perimeter for them to set up in one of the hardest hit areas in Baltimore. On the morning of the first food drive the couple was worried that not a lot of families would show up because they did not advertise the event other than getting the local church to make an announcement. To their surprise when they pulled up at 11am to set up for the distribution at 1pm there were already close to 100 vehicles in line. They knew this was something that was so needed within this community. Over the course of about 15 months the couple distributed close to 2 MILLION meals to feed the families of Baltimore.
The Bozeman’s were hosting their Annual Thanksgiving Food Drive at M&T Bank Stadium where the Ravens play each Sunday when they met the officers of the Southern District of Baltimore. They were in a sprinter van and explained how the people of their district did not have vehicles to be able to get to the food distribution. So they loaded their van with about 100 turkeys and meals for the families and the police were able to distribute them to their district. This got Bradley and Nikki thinking, maybe some of the most vulnerable people when it comes to food insecurity are the people who only the police officers are able to reach. The couple quickly called the officers in the southern district to create a plan to help feed these people. The officers explained the difficulty of lugging 25-30 pound boxes as well as the need for food that children could easily eat. Even though eggs were great the kids mostly through them at stop signs instead of eating them. We wanted to create something that was geared towards the children of this community. That is where the SYNC Snack Program was born. SYNC stands for Supporting Your Neighbors and Communities. This program consists of 6×6 white boxes that contain shelf stable food for kids that the officers can easily carry in the back of their squad cars. The boxes are filled with chef Boyardee raviolis, nutrigrain bars, pop tarts, cereal, mandarins oranges, fruit snacks, cheese crackers, and cheese its. The couple has worked really closely with kids to figure out the best balance of nutrition as well as foods they actual want to eat! The front of the SYNC Snack boxes have a label that shows Bradley and Nikki Bozeman in their jerseys as well as the cops and local kids in the community. The boxes also come equip with QR codes that the children can scan to find free GED programs, free local tutoring, summer camps, and information about making healthy food choices.
Over the course of the last 15 months since the SYNC Snack Program has launched the foundation has received countless praises from not only the police officers in the districts but also the kids who are receiving the boxes. They couple received an email from a little boy who thanked them for sending Officer Shutterfly with a SYNC Snack Box because that is the first person that has talk to him in four days. Another email from a mom thanking the couple for Officer LaMonica delivering the SYNC Snack Box to their neighborhood. She explained that her daughter didn’t know that there were woman police officers and now because of Officer LaMonica her daughter now wants to become a Baltimore City Police Officer!
Bradley and Nikki have also received high praise from the police districts as well. They couple was out eating at a local Italian restaurant in downtown Baltimore and a police officer stopped them. He asked if they were Bradley and Nikki Bozeman. They both agreed and he explained how he had helped not only package the boxes but distribute them as well. He explained how when they used to pull into the neighborhoods, the kids would run because they were scared. This was during the George Floyd era and he said they only know what they see on TV and social media and they have every right to be scared. The officer explained that since they started carrying the SYNC Snacks Boxes into the neighborhoods the kids run to their cars. The kids know the officers only have so many boxes and want to make sure they get one. This gives the officer a chance to introduce themselves and get to know these children and build a relationship with them from a young age. The officer explain he has already seen the benefit from the relationships, when he was called to a scene and the suspect was one of the kids who he had gave a SYNC Snack box to. He said he was able to calmly talk with him because of the relationship built from the SYNC Snack boxes.
The foundation’s two pillars of anti-bullying and food insecurity are testaments to Bradley and Nikki’s dedication to their city and their philanthropic work. When they were thrown a curve ball with Covid they did not sit on their hands because they were not able to get into schools, they adapted and created the SYNC Snack Program which is not only bringing much needed food and education support to these kids but it is also bridging the divide between the children of their community and law enforcement one box at a time!