Published February 04, 2011
Last week Polamalu became the face of a Twitter-based charity auction, TwitChange which gives fans a chance to bid on an opportunity to interact with their favorite celebrities - like Alyssa Milano, Kim Kardashian, Shaquille O'Neal and about 200 other prominent personalities - on Twitter. All proceeds from the campaign will go directly to US Soldiers through the foundation, Operation Once in a Lifetime, which supports active duty and retired members of the military and their families with special requests and urgent needs.
But even amid the craziness of preparing for one of the biggest games of his life, Polamalu has made it a priority to promote this initiative which is so close to his own heart.
"I experienced first-hand the tragedies, psychological and emotional effects of war through my own family members. One cousin was deeply affected by 'Gulf War Syndrome' going from 235 pounds to 85 pounds. When asked what happened to him or what was being done to help him he replied, 'They don't know, and they don't want to know.' He was a Gulf veteran who died shortly thereafter," Polamalu told FOX411's Pop Tarts in an exclusive interview.
"On any given night as many as 200,000 veterans are homeless with another 1.5 million at risk of losing their homes,” he added. “These are people who willingly make the greatest, most selfless sacrifice any American could make. Yet these people sometimes receive little support when they return.
“A soldier once said to me that his two biggest fears were '1. losing his family and 2. being forgotten.' Through Operation Once in a Lifetime, I believe we can change lives one at a time. Perhaps, we could have found a cure or provided solace for my cousin or the countless other veterans who have not found the proper support they so very much deserve."
He even has a special message to all of our service men and women.
"I'm proud to be doing this TwitChange campaign in honor of you and thank you for all the service you provide for our country," he said. " You are the real heroes."
And even though Polamalu feels Twitter and social media is a great platform for communication, the 29-year-old hopes to make it overseas in the very near future so he can interact with his heroes in-person.
"If the right opportunity arose, I would love the chance to visit the troops after the season," Polamalu added.