Former Bucs player Warrick Dunn helps make new home possible for Clearwater father, son
CLEARWATER, Fla. - A Clearwater man and his son have a new place to call home thanks in part to former Tampa Bay Buccaneers running back Warrick Dunn and Habitat for Humanity.
When Nate Johnson and his 10-year-old son, Nathan, pulled up to their new home on Tuesday, they had no idea Dunn and a huge crowd would be there to greet them. That surprise, though, was only the beginning. Dunn’s nonprofit, Warrick Dunn Charities, provided $5,000 towards the down payment for the Habitat for Humanity home, and furnished it and stocked the fridge with the help of the Milkey Family Foundation and Aaron’s furniture store.
"I can just move in and start living the rest of my life, so that’s amazing," Johnson said.
Johnson grew up in the foster care system and now helps teens who are aging out of foster care into adulthood. He said he and his son are grateful beyond words.
"I didn't have a whole lot being in the foster care system. Bouncing around from home to home or group home to group home, you lose a lot of stuff along the way. So, whatever you can get your hands on is you want to hold on to it for as long as you can," he said. "I want to see any foster youth coming out of foster care now make themselves a homeowner like myself," Johnson said.
Johnson put in more than 350 hours working on Habitat homes, including his own, and attended homebuyer education classes.
"It's exciting because [Nathan] got to light up in [the home]. You see the excitement coming from his eyes, and being a kid, you want to be able to have the exact moment come through, whatever it might be, you know, little things, big things. So, this is a big thing for him right now," Johnson said about his son’s excitement.
Dunn gave the Johnsons a tour room by room. His charity has helped more than 200 families across the U.S. through its Home for the Holidays program. The non-profit identifies single parents and helps them achieve their goal of buying a home for the first time.
Johnson is the first single dad to receive the support.
"I think each family is definitely different, and especially for me and this is definitely special because as a single father, understanding what fathers go through the need for more fathers being in kids’ lives," Dunn said.
"My goal moving forward is to definitely get more men to step up and want to get involved and want to become homeowners. A lot of us, we have too much pride, and we don't, you know, ask for help. We have to throw that out the window. We all need assistance in some areas and parts of our lives at some time," Dunn said.
The Johnson family was the Warrick Dunn Charities’ 219th home dedication, and the 58th in the Tampa Bay area. The father and son said they can’t wait to host Thanksgiving this year.
Congratulations, Nate!!! We are so proud of you!