Robbie Gould realizes he likely would not be kicking extra points and field goals in the NFL had it not been for the help of others who got him an invite from Joe Paterno as a walk-on at Penn State.
Today, the veteran San Francisco 49ers placekicker is doing his part to pay back that help through his non-profit foundation, The Goulden Touch.
“I was raised in a family where giving back and being part of a community that comes together and helps each other out is really important,” the Lock Haven native said.
“The game of football and life in general has given me a lot,” he said.
Gould, 36, in 2011 established his foundation that stresses education, health and wellness, medical research and social service.Through it, he has made sizable contributions particularly in the Lock Haven and the Chicago areas.
He lives in a Chicago suburb with his wife Lauren and their three sons, Griffin, 5, Gavin, 3, and Grayson, five weeks.
Gould’s 49er teammates recognized his philanthropic efforts and work in the community by nominating him for the NFL’s Walter Payton Man of the Year Award.
The team describes Gould as a staple of its community relations efforts.
“It’s pretty neat,” he said about being nominated. “I got the chance to play in Chicago were Payton was an icon and I understand what he did for the city.”
The Payton winner will be announced on the eve of the Super Bowl in Atlanta.
Gould also is in the running in the Man of the Year Charity Challenge. He currently is fifth, approximately 2,500 votes behind Denver linebacker Von Miller. The winner receives $25,000 to donate to a charity of his choice.
The public can vote for him by composing a tweet at #wpmoychallengegould. Voting remains open until Jan. 13.
Gould has given back through his foundation in various ways.
A $2.8 million commitment resulted in the March opening of the Ace Hardware Robbie Gould Patient and Family Library at Lurie Children’s Hospital in Chicago.
The tree house-themed library is a quiet place for patient families to read books to take their minds off difficult times, he said. Gould also funded a library cart to take books to patients in their rooms.
Gould is a sponsor of a proposed complex in the Lock Haven area that would include playing fields for a number of sports.
He is doing so because he said he wants to reinvigorate the community and “sports builds character.”
He envisions the complex having an economic impact on Lock Haven especially if it hosts tournaments that attract teams from outside the area.
Gould and his foundation also have:
- Contributed more than $650,000 in the Lock Haven area to purchase youth sports equipment and support non-profits including Horses for Hope, an equine therapy organization.
- Provided money for athletic scholarships at Lock Haven University.
- Raised money in 2012 through a two-year “Kicking Hunger’ campaign to buy more than 36,000 meals for youths in the Chicago area with limited food.
- Personally solicited donations from grocery stores and recruited volunteers to help victims of a 2013 Chicago area tornado. He and other Bears players traveled to meet with victims.
- Donated $150,000 to construct Goulden Touch Field on Chicago’s South Side. It is a multi-purpose field that primary is used for soccer, which is Goluld’s other sport.
Gould connected so deeply with one family while participating in the Children’s Miracle Network’s Children’s Hospital Week in Orlando, Fla., in March that he hosted them recently at a 49ers game.
He annually stages two golf tournaments, one in the Chicago area and the other in Lock Haven, to raise money for his foundation.
Gould played soccer and football his sophomore and senior years at Central Mountain High School but only soccer as a junior.
He credits his brother, Christopher, an assistant special teams coach for the Denver Broncos, with getting him into football.
During his career at Penn State Gould made 115 of 121 extra points and 39 to 61 field goals.
He was undrafted in 2005 but was signed by the New England Patriots that cut him as did the Baltimore Ravens.
Gould was working for a construction firm in Mill Hall when the Bears contacted after their kicker Doug Brien was injured that October.
He kicked for Bears until released in September 2016. He remains the team’s leading scorer with 1,207 points including 276 made field goals.
He played part of 2016 with the New York Giants which he said was great because it was close enough for his family to attend games.
Gould, who signed with the 49ers in March 2017, has made 25 of 26 field goals this season.
He keeps up to date on Penn State football through its website, by reading newspapers and talking with former Nittany Lions he plays against in the NFL, he said.
Gould has no plans to retire but when he does, he said he would like to stay involved in the game possibly as a consultant to team.