Clemson University Graduate, Retired NFL Great, Donnell Woolford, built the foundation of his sports career in his hometown of Fayetteville, North Carolina at Douglas Byrd High School. He was a three-sport star at Douglas Byrd in football, basketball and track. He attended Clemson University where he became one of the best cornerbacks in Clemson history and was a finalist for the Jim Thorpe Award, an award given to the nation’s top defensive player. Donnell was also a two-time All American while at Clemson and was voted one of the Greatest Clemson Tigers of the 20th Century, and subsequently in the Clemson Hall of Fame.
As a first round draft pick for the Chicago Bears in 1989, Donnell started every game from 1989-1996 before being traded to the Pittsburgh Steelers. He ranks third in Bears history with 32 career interceptions. Donnell was a three-time All- Madden Team Member and a 1993 Pro Bowler. Donnell finished his pro career with the Carolina Panthers. In 2014, Donnell was inducted into ACC Football Class of Legends and elected as an Honorary Co-Chair of the 2014 Inspirational Speech Awards held in Chicago, IL. In 2009, he was inducted into The Sports Legends Hall of Fame and was nominated for The NC Sports Hall of Fame.
Since his retirement from professional football, Donnell returned to his hometown of Fayetteville, North Carolina. He was co-owner of the Fayetteville Ruff Riders football team from 2004-2005, which is part of the Mason Dixon Football League. He coached football at East Lincoln High School in Denver, North Carolina. Donnell continues to support his hometown community by mentoring and coaching the local youth as part of the annual Jimmy Raye Clinic and supports several other non-profit organizations within the community and across the nation. The Jimmy Raye Clinic is supported by the United States Army and is a mentoring program for youth of all ages. He has also donated land in Hope Mills, North Carolina as a contribution to the building of World Faith Ministries.
Donnell’s community activities include serving as a Board Member on several non-profit Organizations which include:
- The Allegro Foundation, which raises funds for children with disabilities. He also C0-Chaired their charity Golf Tournament
- The Puzzle Piece Foundation, whose primary focus is to support teachers and organizations that provide services to children with Autism Spectrum Disorder.
- The Union League Boys and Girls Club for Chicago, whose mission is to enable all young people to reach their full potential as productive, responsible and caring citizens.
His most recent community activity is supporter of “A Silver Lining Foundation,” whose mission is to provide quality cancer education and services to all through community partnership, advocacy and healthcare organizations.
Inspired at an early age by the opportunities provided to him by The Boys and
Girls Club, Donnell became empowered by his philanthropic drive, and is now building a new foundation, The Donnell Woolford Foundation (DWF). DWF is a non-profit organization devoted to various charitable causes. Donnell remains passionate about opening doors of opportunity for today’s youth, and giving back to society in general – whether it is for cancer research or for scholarship grants. He is on a mission, and feels truly blessed to have such wonderful opportunities in his life. He sincerely hopes through DWF and community support, he can do the same for others.
Donnell now resides in Charlotte, North Carolina.