TALLAHASSEE, Fla. - Atlanta Falcons running back Warrick Dunn has been helping single mothers buy new homes for several years, but Tuesday he chose the first dad for his first "Home for the Holidays" venture in the city where he starred in college.
Dunn, who played at Florida State between 1993 and 1996, presented a Tallahassee man and his four children with the keys to a new furnished, fully stocked home.
Osei Nyahuma already knew he and his four children were going to have a new house to live in. The $180,000 house was built by Habitat for Humanity and Nyahuma had to help build it. He will be responsible for roughly half the mortgage.
But he didn't know that Dunn would be there to present him with a $5,000 check to for a down payment, plus paying for all of the furnishings inside and stocking the pantry provided by sponsors Aaron's Sales & Lease Ownership and Prudential Tropical Realty.
"I can't remember the last time I sat on a new couch or ate at a new table with enough chairs for my family," Nyahuma said. "I have to keep pinching myself to make sure I am not dreaming."
Dunn, who has overcome his own adversities in life, including the murder of his mother, has set up the Warrick Dunn Foundation to help others. "Homes for the Holidays" is a part of that foundation.
"I just think it was important to come back and let this community know that I still love and cherish my time here," the soft-spoken Dunn said. "Today was a good day, presenting the home, and helping someone else live out their dream.
"Some people (just) need a helping hand," Dunn said. "To be able to have the opportunity to help those guys just live a little bit better, just give them a jump start ... that is just huge."
Since it started 10 years ago, "Home for the Holidays" has helped 74 single parents and 192 children in Tallahassee, Tampa, Baton Rouge and Atlanta - places where Dunn has lived.
Nyahuma has been living on the street and out of his car much of the past two years while his children, between the ages of 14 and 20, lived with relatives.
"From homelessness, to owning a new home, a quality home ... something that I can afford to pay, is unbelievable," he said. "It seems like a dream."
Dunn was honored a few hours later Tuesday with the Circle of Gold award from the Florida State University Alumni Association in honor of his leadership and commitment to the university and local community. The Warrick Dunn Foundation is a not-for-profit corporation headquartered in Tampa.