Over the course of his 30-year NFL career as both linebacker and coach in Chicago, Philadelphia, San Diego and now Charlotte, Carolina Panthers head coach Ron Rivera has put his AAA Membership to good use.
“My wife, Stephanie, and I have been AAA Members for a long time. We belonged to AAA before we moved to Charlotte, then transferred our membership to AAA Carolinas,” he explains. “We like the magazine and we flip through and look at different events happening around the state and the country. As much as we travel, we make good use of those AAA Member discounts on rental cars and hotels. It’s also nice to know that any time we have a situation with the car, we can make that phone call and know that somebody will be there to help us.”
In addition to traveling to Wofford College in Spartanburg, S.C., for training camp each year, Ron Rivera enjoys exploring the Carolinas with his wife.
“In N.C., we’ve gone to Banner Elk, Blowing Rock and stayed at the Omni Grove Park Inn in Asheville. We also hang out in the Triangle region for different sporting events. We’ve been to Wilmington and visited Pinehurst to play golf. We drive to Charleston, S.C., a lot and we love Hilton Head Island, too.”
Closer to home, the Riveras enjoy spending time at Carowinds or the Charlotte Motor Speedway.
“Just being able to really enjoy the Carolinas has been outstanding,” he explains.
During the off season and between road trips, the Riveras host their annual Bowl-A-Palooza the first Saturday in June. The event teams up Carolina Panthers players and coaches with participants to raise money for the Ronald McDonald House of Charlotte.
“It’s become a big deal, and we get a lot of player and coaching participation,” shares Ron Rivera. “The community comes out in a big way. We’ve raised well over $100,000 per event and we’re excited to be able to support the Ronald McDonald House.”
“We’ve met several of the families,” he continues. “They sometimes travel from two to two-and-a-half hours away. It’s heartbreaking to think of them having to make that commute every day on top of the stress of nursing a sick child. Having a ‘home away from home’ can relieve some of that burden.”
In addition to The Ronald McDonald House, the Riveras are active with other organizations like the USO of North Carolina and the Humane Society of Charlotte. When asked what his favorite part about living in the Carolinas is, Ron Rivera is quick to respond.
“I have to say the people first — and I really do mean that,” he shares. “There is something to that phrase ‘southern hospitality.’ We appreciate the support we’ve gotten from the community — whether it’s on the football field or with our charity events. To me, everything starts with the people.”