Saints tight end, Berks alumnus receives Alumni Achievement Award

Despite the fact that he’s a tight end for the New Orleans Saints and a 10-year veteran of the National Football League, Penn State Berks alumnus John Gilmore Jr. never forgot his roots. A native of the City of Reading, Pa., Gilmore co-founded the Gilmore/Henne Community Fund, which provides grants to revitalize parks and recreational facilities in Berks County. For these endeavors, Gilmore was honored with the Penn State Alumni Achievement Award, which recognizes alumni under the age of 35 for their extraordinary professional accomplishments, during an award ceremony at University Park campus on Friday, March 30.

“I’ve never been prouder to be a Penn Stater,” said Gilmore. He went on to discuss a networking event and panel discussion that students were invited to the night before the award ceremony. “I was so impressed with the way students are getting involved, taking initiative, and asking the right questions. It has heightened my sense of pride in Penn State.”

Gilmore teamed up with fellow Wilson High School graduate and Miami Dolphins quarterback Chad Henne in 2010 to create the Gilmore/Henne Community Fund. The idea for the fund was inspired by Gilmore’s return to the Reading, where he found the city’s parks and recreation areas in extreme disarray with excess litter, vandalized equipment, and tangible evidence of drug dealing. Utilizing his Penn State degree and his strong commitment to the community, Gilmore partnered with Henne to establish the fund, which is administered by the Berks County Community Foundation.

Since the establishment of the Gilmore/Henne Community Fund, three parks have been renovated and more than $200,000 has been raised for park renovations and scholarships. In addition, Gilmore has been active in the Greater Reading community, sponsoring activities for local children at renovated parks, as well as other programs and events. 

The fund also provides financial support for Berks County students who engage in scholastic sports, while maintaining a respectable GPA, and plan to continue their education at the collegiate level.

Gilmore played for the New Orleans Saints for the 2011 season following three years with the Tampa Bay Buccaneers and six years with the Chicago Bears. He was drafted into the NFL in the sixth round in 2002.

Prior to his NFL career, Gilmore was a three-year letterman at Penn State and was named the Outstanding Senior Player in 2001 by the State College Quarterbacks Club. In addition, he was a decorated athlete at Wilson High School, where he won numerous awards including Wilson’s 1996 Male Athlete of the Year, and the Associated Press First-Team All-State and First-Team All-County in Berks.

Gilmore graduated in 2001 from Penn State University with a bachelor of science degree in recreation and parks management, which he has put to good use in his charitable work. He resides with his wife Rebecca and their two children in Tampa, Fla.

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Last Updated April 13, 2012