EAGAN, Minn. – Vikings cornerback Kris Boyd was just a few minutes from home when he heard the news Tuesday.
He'd intended to take a post-practice nap. Instead, Boyd stood in the lobby of his building and watched live updates of the tragedy unfolding at Robb Elementary School in Uvalde, Texas.
Ultimately, 19 children – ages 9, 10 and 11 – and two teachers were senselessly murdered by an 18-year-old gunman.
The tragedy rocked Boyd to the core.
"These are children, man … Try to put that in your mind," Boyd said during an interview with the Minnesota Vikings Podcast.
"I saw something on Twitter that said they had to identify these kids by their backpacks," he added. "I was devastated. I cried."
A native of Gilmer, Texas, Boyd grew up more than seven hours from Uvalde and later played football at the University of Texas, about a 3-hour drive from Robb Elementary.
"I began to think, 'What if this happened in East Texas, where I have younger siblings who go to school, and younger cousins and nieces and nephews?' It just took a toll on me," Boyd told Vikings.com. "More and more I started [asking myself], 'What can I do to help the families?' "
The 25-year-old knew he couldn't stay silent. He knew he wanted to do more than create an Instagram or Twitter post.
Boyd opted to create a GoFundMe for the families who lost children in the massacre. Though he has no direct connection to any of the parents and loved ones, he hopes to one day tell them, "I'm here for you."
The GoFundMe, which Boyd kicked off with personal donations, as of Friday morning had raised more than $16,000. The growing amount included a $500 donation from Vikings cornerback Cam Dantzler.
Dantzler, a dad to young children, wanted to help support not only his teammate's effort but, more importantly, families going through the unimaginable.
"I have kids of my own," Dantzler said. "For someone to lose their children [this way] is so sad, which was my motivation to at least help out in some way."
Boyd is grateful to be part of a locker room that cares deeply about matters far beyond the gridiron.
"It's a comfort for me, knowing I have my brothers with me – and my head coach, as well," Boyd said. "This feels like a family … I'd do anything for them outside of football – because it's bigger than that."
Whether it's his fundraiser or financially supporting a similar initiative, Boyd is encouraging others to consider helping in whatever way they're able.
"Try and put yourself in their position. … Picture if this happened to you or affected you in any type of way," Boyd said. "This is not normal. It's not OK."
He added: "We need a change. I know it isn't going to happen overnight, but something needs to be done."
Boyd is hugging his infant daughter even tighter, hoping to raise her in a world where schools represent safety and security for children.
"I have a daughter," he said, his voice trailing off. "I can't imagine. I don't even know what to say."
Vikings fans have come to recognize Boyd by his boisterous personality, affinity for the Vikings "Friday Challenges" and post-practice riddles, and his never-ending smile and laughter.
But there's another side to him, too, and it's time to get serious about making a difference.
"It can help a lot, just helping lighten the financial burdens that come along with funerals," Boyd said. "This isn't something anyone should have to go through."
He isn't taking for granted any opportunities to spend time with young people. On Wednesday, multiple Vikings players and coaches visited a pair of local elementary schools to help host Scholastic book fairs provided by Thomson Reuters. Boyd hadn't previously registered for the event.
"I wasn't even on the list to go. They were talking about a list you had to have signed up on and I'm like, 'I don't care. I'm getting on the bus and going to see these kids.' Because it's important," he said. "It was emotional, of course, getting on the bus and heading there – all I was thinking about was what happened."
Upon arrival, though, Boyd temporarily set the thoughts aside and focused on being present with the little ones, offering high-fives and fist bumps and challenging students to dance "The Griddy."
"I was just so happy to be there and see the smiles on these kids' faces," Boyd said. "If they're happy, I'm happy."
Click here to donate to the GoFundMe to support families in Uvalde, Texas.