In NFL Characters Unite, Mario meets 8-year-old Sophia whose father was killed in Afghanistan when she was only three. It's been a struggle for her to deal with that loss and it's been compounded by the bullying she has experienced at school on a daily basis. Her bully teases her relentlessly for not having a father. Once, when being chased by her bully at school, a swarm of dragonflies followed Sophia and she came to believe that they were symbolic of her father helping to protect her from above. She continues to find great comfort whenever she sees dragonflies and uses her talent for art as a diversion from her pain and fear of bullying. At the Buffalo YMCA, Mario shares with Sophia his own story of loss and how he overcame it and engages her in an art class where she can pursue her passion, be in safe zone and make new friends. The group paints a montage of dragonflies that is then hung in the entrance to the YMCA and formally dedicated to Sophia's father and all area fallen soldiers. From the experience, Sophia realizes that she is not alone and that everyone should be accepted, no matter their family circumstance.
MARIO WILLIAMSBuffalo Bills
Heavily recruited by top college football programs, Buffalo Bills defensive end Mario Williams was only two months into his college career at North Carolina State University when his life was turned upside down. His brother-in-law was tragically killed in a Humvee accident during Operation Iraqi Freedom, leaving his sister to raise her young sons alone. Mario was ready to give up football in order to help take care of her and his nephews, but his sister refused to let him give up his dreams. Mario ultimately stayed in school, worked hard and earned the top spot in the 2006 NFL draft. At the same time, he made it his life mission to assist his sister and other military families and wounded warriors. Mario strongly believes that no child should be bullied and military families deserve everyone's utmost respect.