While the sports world continues to navigate the effects of COVID-19, the most heartwarming sports stories from the pandemic have developed from athletes themselves making a difference in the community.

Columbus is a city that thrives on community support, and Columbus area athletes have fully embraced that sentiment during the pandemic. From charitable donations to personalized messages for frontline workers, we’ve seen incredible showings of humanity from our sports heroes!

Here are a few examples of past and current Columbus athletes showing their love for the community. You can share with us your favorite stories of athletes giving back on Twitter, Instagram and Facebook.

Cam Atkinson Runs for Military and First Responders

Columbus Blue Jackets Forward Cam Atkinson founded the Force Network Fund to identify and provide financial assistance to the very best military and first responder charitable organizations, including USO of Central Ohio, Operation Military Kids and more. To engage communities for this cause during the pandemic, Cam and Force Fund Network have created a virtual 5K on June 4-7. The organization encourages the entire family to get involved, and you can learn more and register for this event here.

Katie Smith Helps Provide Sports Equipment for Young Athletes

Basketball legend and former Ohio State standout Katie Smith teamed up with Ohio State’s LiFEsports initiative and the Lindy Infante Foundation this month to distribute sports gear to keep young athletes practicing at home. The Sport in a Bag project kicked off at the Beatty Community Center and served over 200 families with kits that included a jump rope, basketball, soccer ball or football and at-home guides to stay active while staying at home. We can’t wait to see Katie and this organization continue to make a difference during this trying time!

Mike Conley Donates to Community Organizations

Former Buckeye Mike Conley is giving back to the city he called home during his collegiate playing days. The NBA guard announced that he has donated $200,000 to five communities that helped shape him, including Columbus. His gift will support the Community Shelter Board, providing personal protective equipment for staff working in shelters and those experiencing homelessness, and the Columbus Urban League, which will use the contribution to continue helping meet basic food needs of disadvantaged families during the pandemic.

During these times of uncertainty, we’re more grateful than ever to have such great representatives of Columbus in the sports world! You can learn more about the community efforts of Columbus sports organizations, discussed during the Virtual Sports Report, here. For a run-down on how to stay connected with Columbus teams during the pandemic, click here.