Chattanooga, TN (WDEF) – Peyton Manning is no stranger to Chattanooga. The UTK alum helped celebrate the grand opening of Chattanooga’s D1 Sports Training complex back in the summer of 2007.
Jeff Smith works as GM at D1. Manning is a co-owner of the facility. Smith said, “It’s just a great partnership with him, with us being an athletic training facility and a place for the athlete, having one of the biggest athletes in the world, the most well-known as a quarterback, who’s in the Super Bowl this year, it just drives business and also gives kids a goal to shoot for.”
Manning’s trip for the grand opening came after he lead the Indianapolis Colts to Super Bowl victory over the Chicago Bears and he was voted Super Bowl MVP. But that wasn’t his last trip to D1. His off-season training brings him here every summer.
Jordan Afman works as a Strength and Conditioning Coach at D1. He said, “Obviously he’s very driven. Especially these past few years. He’s been getting after it here. So he comes and works out. he’ll be early, early in the morning and all the members are just admiring him. The guy just has a great work ethic and we all know that.”
A few years later Manning even shot part of a Nationwide Insurance spot in Chattanooga at Finley Stadium. But it’s Manning’s actions off the field that really impact Chattanooga.
After the Chattanooga Terror attack on July 16th, Manning sprung into action. Manning said, “Our family has close ties with the Chattanooga community and on July 16th our hearts were broken by the tragedy that unfolded. Together, with Senator Bob Corker and the Community Foundation of Greater Chattanooga, we have created the Chattanooga Heroes Fund to honor the individuals who gave their lives that day.”
Maeghan Jones is President of the Community Fund of Greater Chattanooga. She said, “The reaction has been amazing generosity and an outpouring of support from around the country. Lead by Peyton Manning and his family, but then we saw donations from people across the country as they were moved by what had happened to these heroes, and wanted to support their families.”
The Chattanooga Heroes Fund raised around $1-million just since this summer. And a lot of people credit Manning for that number.
Arfman said, “When people got hurt recently, he called [Officer] Dennis [Pedigo], Dennis and his whole family comes here, and he immediately just responded to it. Just a man to emulate.”
Jones echoed, “I think he’s been a leader in the community and they saw that. They saw this charismatic leader who’s well-known, as you said, throughout the country, standing up and saying I want to do something to support Chattanooga because it’s a community I care about.”