Since the arrival of Mike Norvell at Florida State, one word has defined his tenure — climb.
To be more specific, it's one acronym, since like any coach worth his salt, Norvell developed one to embody his vision for what the program should emphasize: commitment, “little things,” intensity, mental toughness, brotherhood.
That, combined with the mantra “in all aspects,” has laid out the foundation for the Seminoles in his three years. Combining the two, it theorizes that in all actions, you have a chance to embody and enact all four elements.
We’ve seen the results on the field — a nine-win season, top 15 ranking and a Cheez-It Bowl berth in year three after a three-win season in Norvell’s debut. We’ve seen it off the field as well, with multiple charitable actions (spearheaded by offensive lineman Dillan Gibbons) carried out by members of the team.
Now, in a continuation of those themes of commitment and community, Maria Norvell alongside Emily Whidden are working to enrich Tallahassee through the Keep Climbing Family Foundation.
“The idea of the foundation came about from wanting to make a true impact for underprivileged families and the needs of today’s youth, supporting emotional, physical and spiritual well-being,” Norvell, president of KCFF, said in an email. “We want to be an organization that is action-based.”
Norvell and Whidden, brought together by a mutual desire to bring forth good works in the world, kicked off the foundation with a drive to get coats to children in need at Sabal Palm Elementary in Tallahassee.
The vision of the foundation is perhaps said best in its mission statement, which says “one kind act might be the difference that changes a life forever.”
“The motivation to serve people for me comes from my faith,” Whidden, who serves as the foundation’s officer, said. “When Jesus walked this earth he invested deeply in people, especially those who were underprivileged and overlooked by society. I believe there is a reason Jesus makes relationships such a priority and asks us to do the same. Doing things to love others and build relationships is the driving force for everything.”
Starting with the winter coat drive, in the short term the foundation is looking to make an immediate impact, but the long-term goals of Keep Climbing are clear — raising the overall quality of life and care in the community, as far as the arms of the foundation can reach.
The duo expressed a desire to be a consistent source of comfort and assistance, a “resource in positively changing lives of those in need in our state and beyond,” through whatever possible medium.
In the future, Keep Climbing Family Foundation will look to fund scholarships for higher education, do its part in supporting youth sports, spearhead book drives and assist in providing back-to-school resources and supplies.
“Keep Climbing serves as a reminder that regardless of the hardships that one might encounter, as long as they continue to believe and strive to be their best, no goal or dream is out of reach.”
You can donate to the Keep Climbing Family Foundation here.