By John Davis, Oxford Citizen
A tweet sent out by Ole Miss football coach Hugh Freeze Saturday morning caught the eye of many. Freeze’s tweet briefly talked about the Freeze Foundation, and the mission of helping assist the needs of orphans and children across the world.
Freeze, and his wife Jill, have been thinking, and praying, about starting a foundation for three years now.
“This didn’t just happen overnight. That’s for sure. Jill and I have always felt like we were blessed and we should give back to different things whether it be a church or different organizations,” Freeze said. “Ever since we’ve been here, we’ve had a heart for orphans. That’s not to say we don’t help with other things, but that’s been a driving force and we have been involved.”
Freeze and his wife have also been involved with the Reclaimed Project, which is an organization based in Mississippi. It’s mission is to help orphans, not only in Mississippi, but worldwide.
Former Florida quarterback Tim Tebow and Freeze have become friends over the years, and it was Tebow who asked if Freeze had a foundation.
“He brought the original idea up. I said I didn’t have a clue on where I would start and he was the one who started showing me everything that his foundation has done,” Freeze said, who was amazed at how much Tebow has helped champion since he left Florida. “I couldn’t get away from it in my mind. Jill and I kept thinking about it and praying about it.”
Freeze and his wife paid all the legal fees and did all the leg work necessary to get the foundation up and running. The non-profit foundation was filed on Nov. 19, 2014.
“I finally got tired of thinking about it. I’m reading this book ‘If’ by Mark Batterson and that book really inspired me. It talks about the what ifs, the as ifs and the if only and I’ve become real good friends with (Batterson),” Freeze said. “He told me to do what it takes to start it, and watch what happens.”
Jill and Hugh Freeze were the only contributors to the foundation until he sent out a message to a few people and then again on Twitter. Before noon on Saturday, Freeze had 10 checks sitting on his desk.
“We’re going to give 100 percent of it away of course. And the goal this Christmas, the reason I went on and sent it out and got it started is to get two major goals that we can make a difference in by the end of the year,” Freeze said, who added he has already talked with Auburn’s Gus Malzhan about joining the effort.
Freeze added that the foundation can be re-named at any time. Another well-known sports figure who is involved is pro golfer Ben Crane. Chad Spencer, another good friend of the Freeze family, is also heavily involved with the foundation.
“Those are the four guys that I have talked to about being partners with me and I’m anxious to see what God does through it,” he said. “It doesn’t take a huge amount to make a difference in a life in an orphanage in Africa.”
For more on Freeze’s journey and the creation of his foundation, including thoughts from his wife and Spencer, see Wednesday’s print edition of the Oxford Citizen.