Originally posted on Fox Sports Ohio  |  Last updated 5/29/12
BEREA -- Some Cleveland Browns play football for money. Some for fame. Some to win games and titles. Some because they simply enjoy the game.Rookie linebacker Emmanuel Acho includes all those among his purposes, but ultimately he has a larger one in mind.I just like what football allows you to do as far as what platform it puts you on, the Browns sixth-round draft choice out of Texas said recently. For no other reason people respect you because youre talented at playing a game. It allows you to impact peoples lives for the better.Make no mistake -- Acho loves playing the game, but he loves what it provides him more.I think that is what Im called to do on this earth, is to use this platform, the Cleveland Browns organization, he said. And being able to play football will give me that platform to do more impactful things than winning games.He did not mean use in the sense of take advantage. People who bring medical care to the poorest of the poor are not using anything but their own good fortune to help others.Acho and his family do just that.His parents were born in Nigeria and came to the U.S. to continue their schooling when Emmanuel's father, Sonny Acho, was 21. They have never forgotten. Every year Sonny Acho and his wife Christie take a group of up to 40 doctors, nurses and volunteers to Isuikwuato, in Abia State in Nigeria. The work is done as part of Living Hope Ministeries in Dallas, where Acho is a psychologist and pastor of Living Hope Bible Fellowship Church in North Dallas.I can reach into my medicine cabinet and grab ibuprofen anytime I want, Emmanuel Acho said. Over there, that can save a life.That is only part of the poverty he finds, poverty one doctor called the worst part of America on steroids. There is no reasonable working hospital, and Acho has seen half-naked children roaming the streets trying to sell anything they have. Many live in bamboo homes tied together by fig leafs and lit by candles.As many as 10,000 line up for treatment they otherwise would never receive. There is no reasonably functioning hospital in Isuikwuato, a region that includes almost 1 million people. Clinics are poorly equipped.Which leads to desperation many in the United States cannot grasp.If you can imagine 10,000 people trying to get in one door, Acho said. Ten thousand people knowing that after a week they cant be seen again for another year. It gets rowdy, especially at the end of the day. We leave at six, and they understand.A team of 40 cannot see 10,000. Acho said on average they see 7,000, which is a huge effort but still not huge enough.Ive seen instances where people have faked being dead, he said. So we rush them in and they pop back up. Its crazy, but I cant blame someone whos in need, someone whos that desperate.Anyone who travels packs two bags, one for clothes, one with supplies. The simplest medications, like an antibiotic for a spider bite, make a gigantic difference. Doctors do as many as 100 cataract surgeries, treat back pain, try to help with arthritis and hypertension. They dispense needed supplies and medications and vitamins. But they cant do everything.Its hard for them to understand that were only coming in with so much, Acho said. So somebody might come in with something that we just simply cant treat. Thats the hardest thing, when they wait in line the whole time and all we can do is give them ibuprofen and childrens vitamins and have them go on their way.Acho said he started going about seven years ago, and the overriding emotion he leaves with is humility. Humility to an extreme, he said.The first time it was very eye opening, but I didnt truly understand how blessed I am, Acho said. It wasnt until I got to high school and college that it truly hit me that this could be me.Thats what happens when a woman crawls with sandals on her hands and knees to get treatment.Football does take priority, it does take precedence, he said. But not in the same way that many people think of the natural culture. People value money, value the fame. That is a necessity in order to do the bigger and better things off the field.My whole reason for playing football is to do the bigger and better things. Thats my whole motivation behind it. When youre talking about means, monetary income, I cant put a number on that. But when youre talking about why I wake up and why I exert the energy, 100 percent.
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