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NFL legends team up to fight the spread of COVID-19 in Indianapolis

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As teammates in the National Football League (NFL), Roland Williams and Emil Ekiyor used to battle each other every day on the practice field. Now, these two lifelong friends and entrepreneurs are joining forces to battle against the spread of COVID-19 in Indianapolis and beyond. 

“I moved to Indianapolis more than a decade ago, and my wife and I instantly felt at home. We’ve worshipped here, raised our children here, and believe in the unlimited potential of this region. My efforts in education, philanthropy, and entrepreneurship have all been efforts to see the potential come to fruition,” said Ekiyor, founding partner of InnoPower, the region’s fastest-growing minority conference.   

In addition to InnoPower, Emil’s resume is quite impressive. A few highlights include: 

• NFL defensive end with the Raiders, Buccaneers and Falcons  

• CEO/founder of Enabek Solutions — a U.S.-based client-focused firm that works with U.S. and sub-Saharan African entrepreneurs, social entrepreneurs, institutions and nonprofits. 

• National executive director for the GEO Foundation — an Indianapolis-based national nonprofit organization with the mission of breaking the cycle of poverty by providing students and families in impoverished neighborhoods access to high quality educational options.  

• Former president of the Indianapolis Chapter of Indiana Black Expo 

• President of Indy Youth Sports  

• Vice president of the NFL Former Players Indianapolis Chapter 

• Member of the board of directors of Friends of Education, the largest charter school authorizer in Minnesota 

• Former high school coach at Warren Central High School, Arsenal Technical High School and Cathedral High school 

• Son Emil Ekiyor Jr. currently plays for the University of Alabama Crimson Tide football program. 

Emil’s success is quite an unlikely story for a man whose journey began 5,900 miles away.   

As a young teenager, Emil left his birthplace of Lagos, Nigeria, to come to the U.S. to pursue a better life. Despite being separated from his family and everything he knew, Emil learned to overcome challenges. But throughout his life, one thing that has never left him is his sense of community and teamwork. As a proud resident of Indianapolis, his latest venture is one more example of his giving heart.  

“As we continue the work of building opportunities to embrace diversity across our city, our state and other parts of the world, it’s important that we never forget those struggling to gain access to necessities to strive for a better life,” Ekiyor said, “To date, COVID-19 has already done notable harm to our local educational system, economy and far too many businesses owned by people of color. I am excited to bring one more outstanding resource to Indianapolis to make us better. I’m pleased to partner with my former teammate and fellow entrepreneur to help Indianapolis’s most vulnerable.”  

Roland Williams, president and co-founder of J2 Medical Supply, says his long-standing friendship with Ekiyor is what inspired him to help.

“Emil’s passion and commitment to the Indianapolis community is what inspired me to lend my business, entrepreneurial and philanthropic support to the region,” Williams said. “Like most communities across the nation, Indianapolis is also a community in dire need of a consistent supply of PPE. During this COVID-19 pandemic, J2 Medical Supply is excited to join the team focused on helping.”     

J2 Medical Supply is an FDA-approved provider of high-quality, cost-effective personal protective equipment (PPE) solutions currently providing PPE across the nation to government, health care and business clients in need of a high quality, reliable PPE supply chain. (J2MedicalSupply.com)    

This fall, J2 Medical Supply is partnering with the Indianapolis Recorder, owned by Recorder Media Group and the region’s oldest and most prominent Black newspaper, and InnoPower, the region’s fastest-growing minority conference, to donate thousands of masks to Indianapolis Public Schools (IPS), Community Learning Sites sponsored by The Mind Trust, and other deserving entities throughout the region.    

“As we work to overcome the economic, academic, and health challenges created by the COVID-19 pandemic, now, more than ever, collaboration is needed to ensure the greatest impact for the community,” said Robert Shegog, president and CEO of the Recorder. “Joining forces with J2 Medical Supply and InnoPower was necessary toward ensuring the safety of our students as they continue to deal with the challenges of learning during a major disruption to their school routine.”

In addition to the donation of PPE, Williams will share his expertise on entrepreneurship, philanthropy and personal growth during the second annual InnoPower Minority Business Conference on Aug. 29. The virtual conference is to acknowledge and provide support for individuals of color and other business groups interested in economic and entrepreneurial growth. The Recorder Media Group, home of the Indianapolis Recorder and Indiana Minority Business Magazine, sponsors this conference. 

To please register for the conference, visit IMBconference.com.

Longtime friends and former NFL teammates Emil Ekiyor (l) and Roland Williams are donating PPE equipment to local schools, community learning centers and businesses.

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