Pro Football Hall of Fame Coach Tony Dungy and his wife Lauren told NBC's Today Show this week that they have fostered more than 100 children thanks to a decision they made to never turn away a child in need.
"We love children. Children are our passion, and we just believe that we can pour into them and just help them, guide them through life," Lauren Dungy said.
"We made that decision early on that when we were going to foster children, we wouldn't say 'no,' because we know the children are in crisis and they need a home," she added. "They need stability. They need love. So we opened our doors to the kids, and we've had over 100 children walk through our door."
Lauren Dungy is an early childhood education specialist and a former teacher. Tony is an NBC football analyst and retired coach who formerly led the Indianapolis Colts and Tampa Bay Buccaneers. Both are Christian.
They recently released a book they co-authored, Uncommon Influence: Saying Yes to a Purposeful Life. Tony Dungy said their goal with the book is to "encourage people to let God lead."
Faith is at the heart of their daily lives, Lauren Dungy said.
"It's definitely the driving force in our life," she said. "We begin each day in prayer together, talking to the Lord, and that just really jumpstarts our day. Prayer is very important, and faith is what keeps us together and keeps us going – guides our path."
They discuss their family in the book. They're the parents of 11 children – a number that includes adopted children and foster children. Tony Dungy joked that parenting a large number of kids is easier because he and Lauren each led large groups as a coach and a teacher.
"I think it's a matter of just being prepared for them and knowing they're going to happen," he said, referencing the many times he's received a call from social services asking if the Dungys can take in another child. "And for us, that's how it's been when we've registered as foster parents. That's the first thing that's happened – 'Hey, we've got an emergency situation, can you do this?' And you have to say, 'Yes, we're willing' – and those are some of the most fun ones."
Photo courtesy: ©Getty Images/Nick Cammett/Stringer
Michael Foust has covered the intersection of faith and news for 20 years. His stories have appeared in Baptist Press, Christianity Today, The Christian Post, the Leaf-Chronicle, the Toronto Star and the Knoxville News-Sentinel.