MONTGOMERY, AL (WSFA) - What a year it's been for Roman Harper. Rushing into town to spend time with family and friends and dashing from one interview to the next.
"I just woke up," Harper said laughingly.
He can be assured this is no dream.
Roman Harper, number 41 for the Saints, played a significant role in the Saints' win over Indianapolis in the Super Bowl, the first ever for New Orleans.
But that game is over. Now comes the real challenge, one that goes beyond 4 quarters.
"I just want to be a good example," he said.
Making a difference in the lives of others. Harper knows he's in a unique position to do just that.
"I don't say it's so much of a burden. The more success I have, the more I play in the league, the more people are going to watch me," Harper said.
Roman Harper and his mom Princess have just started the leg work of establishing a program called "Harper's Hope Four One Foundation." The goal is very direct; keep kids off the streets, give them a positive outlook on life and help them realize their dreams.
"Roman has always taken time with kids," said Mrs. Harper.
A case in point.
"A man saw my oldest son in Mobile and he told him I remember your brother in college (Alabama). He was the only one who stopped and gave my son an autograph. That made a world of difference to him," Princess Harper said.
If Roman Harper ever had any doubts that he's already making a difference all he has to do is look here at the Doster Center.
The Doster Center in Prattville where over a thousand fans turned out for Roman Harper Day in the city last weekend.
"It's a lot of love and a lot of people," he said.
A lot of love and a lot of things to sign like footballs, shirts, you name it.. they brought it. But what Harper doesn't realize is that he's already touched the life of an old friend, perhaps more than anybody at the Doster Center.
"Taylor has been very sick," said Kathy Frawley.
That's Taylor Frawley, a high school classmate of Harper's who is now battling Crohn's disease, an illness that can be quite debilitating.
"My son gets very depressed," Kathy Frawley said.
But just for today, Kathy Frawley says her son simply forgot about his sickness and depression after meeting his old buddy, now a Super Bowl cornerback.
"When we got inside and met Roman, Roman said he wanted Taylor's phone number and he would call as soon as he could. This is a very big deal to me. Just for Roman to take a few moments with him, hug him and shake his hands and want his phone number.. he made my son feel like he was impacted," said Frawley.
"I don't see myself as a role model. I try to do right. I am who I am," said Harper.
He is who he is and yet in the eyes of so many others around here especially people like Taylor Frawley, Roman Harper is so much more.
A home town hero who never forgot his friends.
Princess Harper and Roman tell WSFA 12 News they are still planning out the logistics of how the foundation would work. We're told everything should be up and running including the website in a few weeks.
Email Bryan Henry at firstname.lastname@example.org if you know of someone who is making a difference in their community.