Dad’s Mission: Raising Strong Girls, Changing Black Health
FIRST PRINTED IN THE MAY/JUNE 2022 ISSUE
Former Chicago Bears star safety Ryan Mundy knew he wanted to do something that would make life better for the people around him after leaving the gridiron. But in that transition from No. 21 to businessman, anxiety, depression and identity issues took hold.
Though Mundy says he knew he needed help, he couldn’t find the right help. And if he couldn’t, he says, imagine the obstacles facing others in the Black community.
From that realization grew his new mission. Alkeme is an innovative digital health platform for the Black community filled with Black practitioners and experts focused on wellbeing and mental health that meets people where they are and isn’t one-size-fits-all.
“The good that we do is we create generational health for the Black community. We have a vision of a world where Black health disparities are nonexistent,” says Mundy. There’s much work to do. “… We are trying to course correct for 400-plus years of a bad relationship with the health care system.”
“Do good and do well” is Mundy’s core belief and driving force.
“How can I use my time, my talents, my treasure, the things I believe that I’ve been blessed with, to give back to the world and leave it in a better place?” Mundy says.
While he’s doing that, his life’s mission, along with his wife Jillian,is to raise his two daughters, Ryan-Taylor, 10, and Camryn, 7, to be strong, confident women.
He sat down with us recently to talk parenthood in Chicago, a place he says felt like home the moment he arrived at Soldier Field. It’s become the stability he wanted for his family.
What Do You Love About Being a Chicago Dad?
He calls it “the experience of a lifetime.”
“My children look at me as still Dad. Dad every day. That’s always been a breath of fresh air for me, because sometimes I go out into the world and I have to be Ryan Mundy the athlete or Ryan Mundy the businessman, but, at home, I’m just Dad. I can just be unapologetically and authentically myself around my children and they love me for it, regardless if I’m an athlete, regardless if I’m a businessman. Raising two daughters has been quite joyful for me and also a great learning lesson,” he says.
Dad Tips You’ve Learned Along The Way:
The belief at Alkeme, that a healthy life starts with a healthy mind, comes into play at home, too.
He says raising strong Black women is always top of mind for him. Along with giving them the true essences of being Black on a daily basis, he and Jillian work to instill self-awareness and self-confidence in the girls, while making sure they feel good about standing up on their own two feet, he says.
“I really try to operate with (the idea), provide guidance but don’t overreach. Particularly with growing young girls, I want them to develop that self-awareness, to develop that intuition, to understand that with that, sometimes they have to make mistakes, sometimes I have to let them make mistakes so that they can learn on their own.”
He says he turns everything into a teachable moment at home so that when they get out into the world they will be comfortable with who they are and how they show up.
And if he had a magic wand to wave over their future? He envisions an inclusive, collaborative, supportive world in which they have the resources to think big. He always tells his girls to protect themselves, protect each other, be healthy, be successful, have fun and help others.
Your best Father’s Day gift:
“Somewhere warm on a beach with my family. I would love that for Father’s Day.”
What is your superpower:
“My creativity. I can think quickly, I can see things, I have vision.”
Your guilty pleasure:
Sweets. “I love cupcakes, I love peanut butter and jelly sandwiches, I love pancakes.”
One thing that surprises people about you:
“Generally people think the only thing they can talk to me about is football. I’m a multidimensional individual and I have a world of experiences beyond that. … I think people are generally pleasantly surprised when I shift the conversation away from football and can talk about whatever they are interested in.”
What do you hope your daughters say about you?
“I really love my dad.”
Favorite Thing To Do With The Girls:
“I’m really, really active in my children’s lives. I make breakfast for them every day, I drop them off to school every day. I would say that the time I have with them in the car … it’s our time. That’s a special time we have with one another, so I’m really appreciative of that.”
Alkeme is Big on Affirmations, What’s Yours?
“Everything happens the way it should, when it should. Good, bad or indifferent, it happened for a reason, it happened the way it was supposed to happen. I’ve been very blessed and fortunate throughout my life’s journey, but it hasn’t always been pretty, and I’ve had to overcome quite a bit of obstacles and difficult times to keep going.”
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