‘Iowa Legend’ Carson King starts foundation, makes philanthropy a career

Following his viral post and $3 million donation to the UI Stead Family Children’s Hospital, “Iowa Legend” had the idea to start a foundation and make this his career. That dream became reality only a few months later.


Megan Nagorzanski

Carson King claps during a football game between Iowa and Middle Tennessee State University on Sept. 28, 2019.

Kinsey Phipps, News Reporter

Just five months ago, Carson King became a viral sensation overnight. Now, the “Iowa Legend” is dedicating his life to philanthropy by starting the Carson King Foundation, all #ForTheKids.

Back in October, an idea was building in King to start a foundation and make philanthropy his life’s mission. Now, the Carson King Foundation is an official nonprofit. According to the foundation’s website, it is a nonprofit dedicated to helping children and families in times of need while uniting communities to make a difference.

It all started with a sign. King, a cyclone superfan, showed up early to ESPN’s College GameDay covering the Cy-Hawk rivalry football game in September. Hoping for some extra beer money, King held up a poster board with his Venmo username and a plea for Busch Light funds.

Fans tuned in from all over the country, and hundreds donated to King’s cause. At $600 in his account, King decided to donate all money raised to the University of Iowa Stead Family Children’s Hospital.

From there, a storm of national recognition followed King. He traveled all over the country to be interviewed about his experience, and major industry giants such as Venmo decided to contribute. King ended up donating more than $3 million to the Children’s Hospital after just a month of fundraising.

RELATED: Carson King presents $3 million to UI Stead Family Children’s Hospital

“He was exhausted when this whole thing was going on, he wasn’t getting hardly any sleep; he was losing sleep. He didn’t have time to do anything. He was really giving a lot. And here he is paying off a mortgage, a large student loan, and he was missing pay to promote this cause. That says a lot about his character,” said Kendra Sickles, King’s former boss and current Carson King Foundation board member.

Since donating, King has spent time traveling to Iowa schools to speak about his experience. “Carson Speaks” is incorporated into the foundation.

“It’s so much fun,” King said. “When I speak, I talk about small acts of kindness and social media. I’ve learned quite a bit about that in my journey. I’ve learned how to spread a message and inspire kids, middle schoolers and high schoolers, that they can make a difference too.”

He was also offered a job as the director of outreach and advancement at the Barrett Boesen Foundation in Waukee, a nonprofit geared toward giving central Iowa kids active, full lives, King said. There, he is learning more about nonprofit management.

In October, Carson’s brother Josh King started a construction company called Iowa Legends Roofing & Remodeling. The name is in honor of his brother, and the company vows to donate a portion of all profits to the Carson King Foundation, Josh said. Additionally, Iowa Legends provides free office space for the foundation.

RELATED: Altoona man asks for Busch Light funds, donates to UI Children’s Hospital instead

“Carson has never changed. I’ve always been proud of everything he does and holds himself to. I’ll do anything for him,” Josh said.

Carson announced his foundation during a commercial for Iowa Legends that aired locally during the pregame show on Superbowl Sunday. The foundation will give grants, donate to charitable organizations, and help those in need hold fundraisers. They have a website, social-media platform, and a small board made up of four members.

Sickles served as director of an animal rescue league right out of college. Her experience in nonprofit work is a big reason Carson chose her, he said.

“I’m excited that [the foundation] is going to be able to help people who are closer to us. The people of Iowa,” Sickles said.

Throughout this process, Carson hasn’t forgotten the importance of a helping hand. From nonprofit applications to tax forms to free office space; Carson is grateful and excited for what the future holds, he said.

“[This experience] taught me how great people can be, how kind people are, how passionate they are about helping. It’s really eye-opening to see all the good that’s in the world.”

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