John Taits interest in art started
when he was just a kid growing up in Tempe, Ariz.sketching and drawing
and that sort of thing. His parents encouraged him in pursuing his interest
to the point they enrolled him in special art classes when he was 10,
where he could learn to paint with oils. But he wasnt the only one
they encouraged; they wanted to see all seven of their kids become well-rounded
individuals. "My parents stressed finding what youre talented
at," Tait says, "and doing it well."
Then sports became a big part of his life, especially in high school.
Then there was football at Brigham Young University, before and after
two years of mission service in the Mormon Church. Then, in 1999, there
was a chance to play ball with the Kansas City Chiefs. Still, for the
6-foot-6-inch, 320-pound tackle, the creative urge was never far below
So a year ago, he combined his sense of community obligation, his love
for art and his love for kids to start the John Tait Foundation. Through
the foundation, he supports childrens programs at the Childrens
Museum and the Kemper Museum of Contemporary Art, and he helps raise money
for Camp Quality of Northwest Missouri and for First Downs for Down Syndrome.
Last November, his foundation sponsored a fund raiser at the Kemper for
Accessible Arts, an organization that champions the arts for children
with special needs. Tait persuaded four fellow Chiefs to paint original
canvases that were then put up for auction.
"The arts get excluded sometimes," he believes, especially when
budgets get cut and programs get trimmed. But he has seen the benefits
that accrue to youngsters through the arts, even those who are vision-impaired.
"Its an important part of life for kids to express themselves
creatively," Tait says. "I just want to be able to help them