CINCINNATI (FOX19) - As Andy and JJ Dalton depart Cincinnati, they leave behind them a legacy of touched lives and selfless helping that vies with anything the veteran quarterback did himself on the gridiron.
Their eponymous foundation helps children and the families of children who are ill or physically challenged.
“He was so committed to Cincinnati, he just cared about Cincinnati so much," Katelyn Gay said. “He’s just so much more than an amazing quarterback. He’s just such a great person, and his whole family, wife, everyone, they’re just great.”
Though Gay has never met Dalton in person, she’s one of countless Tri-State residents on whose life the quarterback has had a profound and lasting impact.
When Gay’s daughter was 18-months-old, the toddler had to have open-heart surgery. It saddled the young family with many thousands of dollars in medical bills.
Then came the Andy and JJ Dalton Foundation, and $10,000 of those bills were paid.
“Just very passionate and genuine people,” Gay says describing the Daltons.
Amy Auberger has a similar story.
Auberger’s daughter, Addie, was born premature at 23 weeks. After 119 days in the NICU and many medical procedures, Auberger and her husband had accumulated a significant amount of medical debt.
Years later, they were still paying it off when the Daltons’ foundation stepped in to take care of the remaining balance.
“We were just in awe after having the hospital bills paid off," Auberger said. "And then a week later I get a phone call, ‘How would Addie like to be king for a day?’”
Addie and her family soon went to Kings Island for the first time as a family. Auberger says it was a life-changing experience.
“When you have a child with special needs, they have a lot of sensory problems at times, so they can have meltdowns,” she explained. “And you really worry about paying huge expenses to get in the door and have to leave.”
Gay and Auberger say they don’t care where Dalton ends up, his legacy in Cincinnati will never be forgotten.
“We’re gonna miss him!” Auberger said. “Mr. Dalton is a big hero in our house. We love him, and our daughter is non-verbal, and she doesn’t walk, but she will stand up to the tv and touch his face when the Bengals games are on.”