When Ronnie Cameron is talking about hits, it’s not the kind of hits you might expect to hear from a 300-pound defensive tackle.
You see, when Cameron says he wants to rack up 1,000 hits, he’s talking about 1,000 unique visitors to Bonfire Impact, a website he created to focus on good works. Cameron, who signed with the Eagles as an undrafted free agent last December, said that he attracts 200-400 visitors a day. He wants more.
“I’m a person that likes to seize opportunity and I see this as a great opportunity,” Cameron told Metro.
The hulking football player got the idea while serving as a blogger for The Huffington Post, a job he still holds. He was posting a negative story about the presidential debate when inspiration struck. Four months ago, Bonfire Impact was launched.
“I think we’re programmed to be attracted to the negative,” Cameron said. “I think the way the media has gone in this nation is that we’ve been programmed to watch certain things. We need to reprogram them to watch more positive things, to redefine what we see as normal.”
That normal is an internet utopia filled with good people doing good deeds. Cameron has partnered with non-profit organizations, like the American Cancer Society, Teach for America, Save the Children and others. He is also working closely with the NFLPA (National Football League Players Association) in an effort to promote positive news about athletes. Cameron hopes to involve the NBA, NHL and MLB in time.
“The reception has been very good, a lot of people see it as a breath of fresh air compared to what they see in the media,” he said.
Cameron started his side project last year when he was playing for the Browns. He was working with Rene Harvey, the vice-president of community relations in Cleveland, sorting through names for the new website.
“She said bonfire and I said it can’t be just bonfire, so we added the impact,” Cameron said. “We wanted it to be kind of a beacon for hope, and it came together from there.”
Cameron’s passion for helping others comes from his upbringing. His parents — father is from Trinidad, mother from Haiti — immigrated to New York with nothing, but worked hard and saved their money, and raised Cameron right.
“I was fortunate to live a middle class life, but I do have family that is the lowest of the lowest classes,” Cameron said. “But I also have family that is the highest of the highest classes.”
Cameron’s goal is to open people’s eyes. A recent headline on the website read: Zimbabwe housing emergency jeopardizes health of its citizens. An upcoming feature focuses on rehabilitating prisoners at Sing Sing Correctional Facility by using art. Another in-depth piece examines the extreme ways elephants are being poached in Africa. Cameron is constantly using the word “empower” when he describes his vision.
“My biggest philosophy on life is seeing everyone reach their full potential,” he said. “and if I can help anyone do that in any way, then I feel like I’ve reached my full potential.”
Eagles ‘100-percent’ on board
For those wandering how this will work once football season begins. Well, Cameron has it covered. He’s enlisted a small staff of volunteers and insists he has a structure in place to keep the website running without his supervision. He’s even talked to the Eagles about it and they are “100-percent supportive.”
“We [football players] have a lot more free time than people think,” Cameron said. “A lot of people have hobbies, like playing video games … well, this is my hobby.”
Roseman stayed in touch
Cameron said he talked with Eagles GM Howie Roseman throughout the 2012 NFL Draft and kept in contact with him after he went undrafted. On Dec. 12, he was signed to the Eagles practice squad. He’ll get a chance to compete for a permanent spot once spring camps open.
“I really feel like I have a promising future in Philadelphia,” he said.
What’s next for Bonfire Impact?
Cameron, along with editor-in-chief Ashley Dale, have big plans for Bonfire Impact. They just re-launched the website with a new format last week. They have a staff of 24 volunteer writers and interns, and plan to add a video app soon.
Cameron is very active on Twitter as well, frequently offering his political views while promoting his company. He majored in Information Technology and almost accepted a job offer as an IT consultant before getting signed to an NFL contract.
“Honestly, this is something that is really different, eye-opening, empowering,” Cameron said. “I’m taking it one day at a time. Six months, a year ago … I never thought I’d be doing this. I’ve had a lot of ambitions.”
The Ronnie Cameron file
» Played college ball at Old Dominion University (2010-11) and Hofstra University (2008-09)
» Signed as undrafted rookie free agent by Chicago Bears after 2012 NFL Draft
» Spent most of last season on Browns practice squad, promoted to active roster Nov. 2
» Picked up by Eagles as free agent on Dec. 12, added to 90-man roster