Non-Profit EIN# 27-1316809
Giovani (“Gio”) Bernard truly embodies “The American Dream”. Born in 1991 in West Palm Beach, Florida to Haitian immigrants Yven and Josette Bernard, his history shows that with hard work, anything is possible. Yven and Josette worked day and night to provide a better life for their family, which included Giovani and his older brother Yvenson Bernard. Yven, a soccer player in Haiti, encouraged his sons to take up an all-American sport, and the boys took to American football.
Both children excelled in the sport, Giovani following in his brother’s footsteps by embarking on his football career at the young age of 6? He began as a linebacker and then a fullback, but always hoped to become a running back, just like his older brother. Eventually, Bernard was assigned to the running back position, and continued to prosper on the field.
In 1999, the Bernard family was struck with tragedy, as Josette, who had fallen ill to thyroid cancer, passed away. From that day forward it became the family’s collaborative mission to work hard and dedicate all success to Josette’s memory.
As Giovani grew, he continued working to honor her memory, both on and off the field. He excelled at St. Thomas Aquinas High School in Fort Lauderdale, Florida, where his talent as a running back was nationally recognized. During this time he was ranked by the Orlando Sentinel as the No.12 running back in the United States and by Rivals.com as the No.2 running back in Florida.
In 2010, Bernard enrolled at The University of North Carolina where he played running back for the North Carolina Tar Heels football team. During his undergraduate career he prospered, despite an injury to his ACL during his first season. By 2011 he was back on the field, and became the first North Carolina running back since 1984 to rush for at least 100 yards in five straight games. Bernard was awarded the ACC’s prestigious Piccolo Award for “most courageous” football player in the ACC due to his ability to overcome this serious injury.
Bernard continued his excellence throughout his collegiate career, and was the first running back selected in the 2013 NFL Draft (Second Round, 37th overall). Considered the most elusive back in the draft, Cincinnati Bengals head coach Marvin Lewis saw an opportunity to add a much needed missing element to a team that had ben eliminated in the first round of the playoffs the prior two seasons.
The NFL, and followers throughout the world quickly took notice of Bernard as he was frequently focused on the HBO’s series “Hard Knocks: Training Camp with the Cincinnati Bengals.” However, it is his on-field success that has been most telling of his commitment. During his rookie year, Bernard had over 1,200 total yards and eight touchdowns and was named to the Pro Football Writers of America’s all-rookie team.
On the heels of an extraordinary rookie season, Giovani Bernard looks
forward to creating new achievements on the field, but also making an
impact off the field through the Run Gio Foundation.
In 2014, he established the Run Gio Foundation, which has been
created to benefit the Jardin Vert de Josette School in Haiti. Working
with his family to build a school in his mother's name, Bernard's
foundation, coupled with his personal efforts will benefit the children
of Haiti and ensure that his mother's legacy lives. It is Bernard's
deepest commitment, above all else, to donate much his free time and
efforts to the prosperity of this school and local schools in his
community.football or working on Run Gio Foundation
projects, you can find him spending time with family and friends.