Even before Rashad Jennings was crowned a Mirrorball Trophy winner, the 24th Dancing with the Stars champion knew what he wanted to focus on once his time on the reality dancing competition series came to an end — helping kids.
During Tuesday night’s nail-biting live finale, Jennings competed against veteran pro baseball player David Ross and Fifth Harmony member Normani Kordei in the final round of the competition, but it was the NFL running back free agent and his pro partner Emma Slater who were crowned the season’s big winners.
Speaking with PEOPLE prior to his win, Jennings said that he would be pouring his energy into his nonprofit foundation at the wrap of the series.
“I have a foundation that I do so much with kids. I work with so many amazing people and I definitely will do some stuff with the foundation,” the 32-year-old Rashad Jennings Foundation founder told PEOPLE.
As a teen, Jennings was “bullied” and “made fun of a lot.” Now as he reflects on his childhood and teenage years, Jennings understands the significance of a positive example being set for the next generation, and he plans “to move that forward” and “be a voice — continue to be a voice for things I believe in and make a difference.”
In addition to leading efforts with his foundation, which partners with players from all 32 NFL teams to give back to youth through literacy, mentorship and health and fitness programs, he still has his sights set on actively returning to the NFL.
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SOURCE: PEOPLE, Natalie Stone