Tampa Bay Buccaneers 2010 first-round pick Gerald McCoy and a number of prominent NFL players are beginning a mission trip today to two war-torn African countries with the nonprofit group Pros for Africa.
A number of former Oklahoma players -- Tommie Harris, Mark Clayton and Adrian Peterson among them -- have been intimately involved with the organization, which is based in the state. That prompted McCoy to get involved. Also scheduled to join them were players such as Vernon Davis and Santonio Holmes.
McCoy was scheduled to depart Monday for the two-week effort that will help bring clean drinking water, medical and hearing aid to children impacted by the countries' wars.
He said the trip will allow him to fulfill a longtime wish while also impacting lives.
"I've always wanted to go to Africa anyway, and when I learned about what they were doing over there, I thought it was something great to get involved with," he said.
In Uganda, the players will spend part of their time working with Sister Rosemary Nyirmube. She runs a facility that houses hundreds of displaced women and girls abandoned by their villages because of unintended pregnancies stemming from sexual assault.
"We're going to do a lot of work with kids who haven't been treated fairly in their lives," McCoy said. "Some have been raped, abused. This is a pretty big deal.
"It definitely touches my heart. It's hard to know all the things that our people (black people) went through in the first place. This isn't slavery, but they're being mistreated over there by their own people. It's a great feeling to be able to help them."
McCoy expects the interaction with the children in Africa to hit especially close to home. He said being the father of a young girl, Nevaeh, will greatly affect his perspective.
"Having a little girl, I couldn't imagine her being kidnapped and raped," he said. "I couldn't imagine losing her -- period."
McCoy and the other players expect to leave a lasting impression on those they help, but he thinks he'll benefit personally, too.
"I think it'll open my eyes a lot to see there are other things outside of America," McCoy said. "And I think it'll encourage me to encourage others to get involved and help others besides yourself."
For more information or to donate to Pros for Africa, see their website .