2010 Minnesota Student Leadership Seminar Keynote Speaker

 Listen to Darrell Thompson's address at the 2010 Minnesota Student Leadership Seminar. Click Here

 Darrell Thompson,  CEO Bolder Options, former Green Bay Packer, former Gopher running back and 2010 Minnesota Student Leadership Seminar Keynote Speaker.



Darrell Thompson's name will be forever associated with his glory days as a star running back for the University of Minnesota Golden Gophers and the Green Bay Packers. Today however, it is as Executive Director of Bolder Options, Inc., that Thompson is making his mark working to help at-risk youth develop their self-esteem and achieve positive new life skills.

"I know that as a kid, being involved in sports helped keep me out of trouble," says Thompson, whose organization uses athletic-related activities such as running and biking to bring youth together with their adult mentors. A natural athlete who excelled at several sports himself, Thompson sees his role today as providing the foundation by which at-risk youth can learn to develop positive life skills and enhanced self-esteem by working on athletic-based goals. "We teach our kids that they can sets goals for themselves and achieve them," says Thompson. "And we also show them that there are other adults who care about them and want to help them succeed."

Thompson started working with Bolder Options in 1995 as program manager. He was the first employee hired to work on the Minneapolis Jaycees-founded program. The purpose of the then-untried program was to provide an activity-based mentoring program for at-risk youth in Hennepin County. "We wanted to give youth and their adult mentors an activity, such as running or biking, to focus their relationship around," says Thompson. "We thought the results might be more productive for the kids — and easier for the adults to manage as well, since they would have a defined purpose in meeting with their youthful mentees."

By 1998, the program's success in helping deter first-time youth offenders from the juvenile justice system was drawing led the Jaycees to establish Bolder Options as a separate nonprofit organization, with Thompson as its first Executive Director and one additional full-time employee. Today Bolder Options has four full-time employees, several part-time employees and interns, and works with close to 100 kids per year. 

Thompson's sports credentials speak for themselves: High School All-American in football and basketball at John Marshall High School in Rochester; 4-year starting running back from 1986-89 for the University of Minnesota from 1986-89 and selections to the Big 10 All Conference team, Playboy All American and Fiesta Bowl All American teams and the University of Minnesota Football Hall of Fame; first-round draft pick by the Packers and five-year National Football League veteran. He also serves as Gopher football gameday commentator for WCCO-AM Radio in Minneapolis.



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