Why These Sports Stars are Supporting Compassion Children

How did a bunch of canceled events lead to a 70,000-child movement?

Nate (in khaki green) and Lexi (in white) are standing on a set of steps posing for a photo with a family. The family consists of a dad, mom and two children, a baby girl in red and white, and a boy in blue. There are white buildings on either side of them.
Nate Solder of the New York Giants (in green) and his wife, Lexi (left), formed a special bond with this Guatemalan family on a 2019 trip with Compassion.

In spring 2020, when 1,200 concerts and other live events were canceled, a huge challenge arose for Compassion — with no warning.

Before COVID-19 began, Compassion’s field offices had already begun registering new children into programs, like they do every year. But when the pandemic arrived and planned gatherings around the world were canceled, Compassion no longer had the platform to share the message of sponsorship with the massive groups of people who would attend these events.

As a result, 70,000 newly registered and vulnerable children no longer had an opportunity to connect with a sponsor. Compassion realized more than $30 million would need to be raised to help these children receive urgently needed food, medical care and other support.

What does “Fill the Stadium” mean? 

The Fill the Stadium campaign is a beautiful example of the church’s response to those 70,000 vulnerable children left unsponsored.

Through conversations with partners at Pro Athletes Outreach, Compassion began to visualize a pro football stadium, which on average holds about 70,000 people, filled with support for unsponsored children. Dozens of pro athletes stepped up to inspire fans and donors across the world to stand in that gap and “fill” the stadium by donating funds in support of those children.

What are some recent highlights of the movement? 

  1. Currently, more than 50,000 seats have been filled in support of 50,000 children and their families. 
  2. Fill the Stadium developed a Lead Team of pro athletes, church and business leaders, and Compassion staff. The list of athletes includes Nate Solder and Nick Foles (American football), Alyssa Naeher and Elizabeth Eddy (soccer), Chris Davis and Adam Engel (baseball), Webb Simpson and Zach Johnson (golf), and dozens of other sports stars.
  3. In February, Compassion President and CEO Santiago “Jimmy” Mellado joined over 50 athletes, leaders and their family members to celebrate filling over 45,000 seats: 
  1. Andy Stanley, founder and senior pastor of North Point Community Church, and Reggie Joiner, founder and CEO of Orange Leaders, joined Jimmy Mellado to highlight Fill the Stadium and encourage their communities to join the movement.
  2. Fellowship of Christian Athletes (FCA) President Shane Williamsonjoined Jimmy Mellado to celebrate FCA’s partnership with Fill the Stadium. News of the partnership was sent to over 50,000 FCA staff, coaches and athlete leadership volunteers. Pro football player Case Keenum also lent his voice to the partnership.

Would you help us cross the finish line by donating to help children and their families? To learn more and donate, visit FillTheStadium.com and follow the movement on social media:

Facebook: @fillthestadium | Twitter: @fillthe_stadium | Instagram: @fillthestadium

4 Comments |Add a comment

  1. Sally Akehi May 19, 2021

    This is Sally Akehi. I support a girl in Thailand. I too am impressed by how the idea got started to raize money to fill the stadium and provide the monies that would have come in if the concerts hadn’t been cancelled. I myself used to be one of the sponsors who would go to the concerts and help people sign up for a compassion child or children at the concert! I enjoyed doing that so much! I also love writing letters to my girl in Thailand. Thank you for all you are doing and the way you have brought together many different people to support our children! May God bless you and all the work you do! Sincerely, Sally Akehi

    1. Grace May 20, 2021

      Hi Sally! We are so thankful for your time volunteering at concerts and events on our behalf! Thank you for advocating for children and making an eternal difference! ? We are blessed by your encouraging words and your continued sponsorship of your girl in Thailand. God bless you! ??

  2. Esther Rodriguez May 11, 2021

    This is wonderful to hear. With this pandemic I suppose lots of sponsers lost their jobs and could no longer afford to send money in. I praise the athletes for coming to the rescue. God Bless you all. We are retired so the pandemic did not affect us financially. Thank God for that.
    These children need our help.
    Esther R.

    1. Nicole May 11, 2021

      Hi, Esther!☺ Thank you so much for your encouraging words! We rejoice with you that your family was not financially affected by this pandemic, and we are grateful for your advocating for kiddos in poverty. It is truly a beautiful thing how we all use our gifts and talents to partner together!

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