Not everyone can be an athlete, but everyone can learn.

That’s the advice one-time Nebraska Husker Tony Veland has. Veland, Director of Community Engagement for AIM Institute, played for the University of Nebraska from 1991 to 1995, first as a quarterback, then as a free safety. After graduation, he was drafted into the NFL. He played free safety for the Denver Broncos from 1996 to 1997, and the Carolina Panthers in 1998.

Now he works hard to spread the word about AIM and to attract investment into its vital tech education and career development initiatives.

“I can’t write a line of code,” Veland says. “But what I can do is provide opportunities to kids who want to get into the tech space.”

Veland is taking part in a giveaway to raise money to do exactly that. Tomorrow’s Touchdown 4 Tech drawing offers you the chance to win four free tickets to the sold-out Nebraska spring game on April 13. Every $20 you donate to AIM’s youth-in-tech programs will earn you an entry into the drawing. Veland will announce the winner on Facebook Live at 10 am CDT tomorrow.

The Computer is the New Ball

Coming of age in the Benson area of Omaha, Veland played a lot of sports.

“I grew up in a low-income neighborhood,” Veland says. “I had my mother and father around, but we didn’t make enough money to afford me being able to go to college without some type of scholarship. So I knew that, in essence, I was going to have to create my own way.”

Athletics helped him pay for his college education. They also earned him automatic credibility with the audiences he engages as AIM’s Director of Community Engagement and as a motivational speaker.

“Sports are a unifier. If you take music out of the equation, it’s probably one of the biggest unifiers out there. People just love and gravitate toward sports. And when you have somebody who’s done well in the past, people tend to respect them. All of a sudden, you have some influence.”

After leaving the NFL, Veland became a financial advisor for many years. He enjoyed the job, but eventually started to feel a different calling. A friend told him about the work AIM Institute was doing with their youth educational programs. Veland loved the idea of using his influence to spread the word about AIM.

“When I had a chance to hear what AIM does, it was just attractive, the ability for me to do something every day that would have a direct impact to kids who need opportunities.”

In fact, during the Touchdown 4 Tech video shoot, Veland took time between takes to address a student audience at the Brain Exchange building in downtown Omaha. The Brain Exchange is an AIM program that provides tech education to youth who might not otherwise have access to it.

He gave the students a message of hope and solidarity.

“Even the great athletes have gone through their trials, and I think people need to hear that sometimes. And I think people also need to know that there are people are care.”

Tony Veland’s Top Tips for Life

  1. Work hard at whatever you do.
  2. Surround yourself with good people.  
  3. Set goals.
  4. Network!
  5. Find a mentor.
  6. Learn to believe in yourself.
  7. Learn how to conquer adversity.