For the past seven years, collector Tim Virgilio has spent his limited free time raising money to help military veterans and their families. His Signatures for Soldiers charity turns autographs from current and former athletes into cash. He’s a one man mission–with little in the way out outside support other than a table at the National Sports Collectors Convention he uses to spread the word and raise funds. Asking for help can be draining, but this week, Virgilio’s campaign got a huge and very much unexpected boost from an NFL player.
The Kansas City Chiefs announced that offensive lineman Andrew Wylie would be wearing some custom made cleats in support of Signatures for Soldiers during this week’s Sunday Night Football game against the Denver Broncos.
— Kansas City Chiefs (@Chiefs) November 30, 2021
Kansas City area media outlets also mentioned the news, giving a huge visibility boost to Signatures for Soldiers.
Virgilio, sitting at home in St. Petersburg, FL, was stunned.
“I had no idea that he was going to do this. I actually found out just like everyone else….via the Chiefs Twitter account,” he joked Wednesday. “I literally had tears streaming down my face when I saw it. This is such a tremendous honor to be thought of and considered for something like this.”
Wylie is an avid collector himself, but had learned about Signatures Through Soldiers after signing autographs at All 4 Sports, a hobby shop in Saginaw, MI, not far from his hometown. Wylie and Virgilio exchanged messages prior to this year’s National in Chicago but Virgilio says he never expected to see his logo on a pair of NFL cleats.
“Just the potential attention on a larger level that this can bring to our efforts to help homeless and disabled veterans is amazing,” Virgilio told SC Daily. “I’m so very grateful and extremely humbled by all of this.”
It’s all part of the NFL’s sixth annual “My Cause My Cleats” campaign. For one week each NFL season, players can wear specially designed cleats to show support of their favorite non-profit groups. Many of the game-worn shoes are then auctioned off to benefit those charities.
All money raised by Signatures for Soldiers goes directly to Military Missions In Action to help support their work with homeless and disabled veterans. Since 2014, about $140,000 has been raised through the sale of donated player autographs and memorabilia.