Sept. 26, 2013
MADISON, Wis. -- Chris Borland had already accumulated an impressive list of accolades heading into his fifth and final year at Wisconsin.
The redshirt senior from Kettering, Ohio, holds UW's school record for forced fumbles and has been named to a long list of prestigious watch lists, including for the Bednarik Award, awarded to the best defensive player in the college football.
On that impressive list is one number that’s easy to overlook: 78. That’s how many hours Borland has volunteered since May 2013.
From visits to the American Family Children’s Hospital to hosting an event to raise money for a national non-profit with the help of his teammates, Borland has made more than 20 appearances in four months.
Borland has not only made it his own personal mission to be involved, however. He takes the lead in getting his teammates engaged in community service, as well. Collectively, the UW football team has volunteered more than 1,000 hours since May 2013.
“When a guy of Borland’s stature is always the first to volunteer and give back, it trickles down through the entire team,” said teammate Brian Wozniak. “He’s so good around the families and kids we interact with. He always gives them a positive attitude.”
UW Community Relations Coordinator Kayla Gross holds Borland in the same regard.
“You will be hard pressed to find a more genuine, empathetic human being,” Gross said. “He’s exceptional. He goes out of his way to connect personally with everyone he interacts with.”
One such connection is with 14-year-old Darien Moran of Madison. Borland first met Moran last May when the teen wished for a Badgers-themed bedroom makeover from Make-A-Wish Wisconsin.
While much of the team has kept in contact with the boy, Borland has developed a particularly special relationship. The two visit on a regular basis.
“We talk about every other week,” said Moran. “He tells me about how I should be doing my work in school and not to get stressed about football. Our relationship means a lot to me.
“Now I have a person to look up to and someone I want to be like when I grow up.”
Moran’s aunt, Terry Soerens, who cares for the teen, can’t say enough about the impact Borland’s efforts have had.
“I don’t have the words to adequately describe the impact Chris has had on him,” Soerens said. “He looks at him as a ‘big brother from another mother.’ In fact, that’s how he has referenced Chris on his Facebook. Darien aspires to be a lot like him.”
The relationship Borland has developed with Moran is one he describes as “special” and something he uses for motivation to continue to help others in need.
For the dedicated senior, 78 hours is only the beginning. This fall, he already has committed to visiting the American Family Children’s Hospital on a weekly basis and is volunteering in an elementary school for an hour every Thursday.
“Chris is someone who takes the opportunity every chance he gets to help out someone in need,” said Zach Nyborg, UW’s director of football operations. “He knows he can be an influence for good.”