MILWAUKEE -- Milwaukee's arena football team has always prided itself in getting out into the community, from expos to conventions and events for kids, the Mustangs understand the importance of giving back. Now, one Milwaukee Mustangs player is being honored for his commitment to the community, and his tiny inspiration.
It is tough to be a defensive player in the Arena Football League - watching opponents score over and over on you can test a player's patience.
"It was hard for me at first. I bought into what the coach's telling us. It gets easier," Ryan McFoy said.
McFoy is one of those guys - saddled with stopping teams' high-powered offenses, but he has a better attitude about that challenge than most in his position, possibly because he has perspective, and an ability to prioritize.
"He's happy-go-lucky. He's a good kid to have around, and he's a good football player," Mustangs Coach Bob Landsee said.
This week, McFoy was honored as the "Community MVP" - a player who gives back.
"We are seen as role models, so that's one thing I try to do. I'm also very religious, so I try to bring that into it as well - just to try to guide youth in the right direction, because a lot of youth today don't have a lot of positive role models," McFoy said.
McFoy said he credits his grandfather, father and older brother as setting a good example for him, but it was another family member who motivated his commitment to charity - his little sister, Desiree.
"She's very intelligent. She's moved on a long way from where she started," McFoy said.
McFoy was one-and-a-half when McFoy's parents took her and her newborn sister in as foster children. Desiree - now headed into the seventh-grade, has autism, prompting McFoy and some of his teammates to drive to Chicago to participate in a recent "Autism Speaks" walk.
"It was something I wanted to do. I don't know a lot about it, as far as how big it was. I never did an autism walk. My sister had it and I was dealing with it but it was good going to Chicago and seeing all the kids with autism, talking to them, and talking with the different families and seeing they're going through the same things I went through," McFoy said.
McFoy said the biggest lesson he learned from his sister is patience, and that's a quality Coach Landsee sees him practicing on the football field.
"He's as much a young man who wants to crush somebody, but you do see him holding back," Coach Landsee said.
"It's helped me out a lot in life in general, being patient with different things - football, life in general and juggling the two," McFoy said.
The team is still struggling to put together wins on the field, but McFoy is making sure they're winning away from the field.
"We want publicity for the right things - for what we're doing for other people. That's what's important, and he's just that kind of kid," Coach Landsee said.