CSU alumni Weston and Marlee Richburg, with their child Cash, have established a $1 million gift through a charitable trust to make an annual impact on the football and volleyball programs.
Weston Richburg was given the chance to play Division I football for Colorado State University, something he felt was out of reach most of his high school career. In Fort Collins, he became an All-Mountain West performer, starting in a program-record 50 consecutive games before he graduated in 2013 and becoming a second-round pick in the 2014 NFL draft by the New York Giants.
Even more important, he met Marlee Reynolds, now Marlee Richburg.
“Colorado State gave me a wife, first off. That was a big part,” he joked. “Not only was I able to play Division I football, which I never thought I’d do, I was also able to get an animal science degree from a prestigious program. It was not only the athletic side, but the academic side. It prepared me for everything that I’m going through, not only playing football and taking me into the NFL, but having some cattle stuff on the side, and the education part helped with that.
“It was an important time of my life where the university provided a lot of things for me that will help me later on in life.”
Marlee, who graduated in 2014, was an All-Mountain West performer herself, one of a long line of standouts for Tom Hilbert’s volleyball program. Married and with their first child, Cash, now 10 months old, the Richburgs felt it was the perfect time to give back to the place which gave them so much.
Giving back, paying forward
They have established a $1 million gift through a charitable trust, the first seven-figure gift to CSU from a donor younger than the age of 30. The trust will make an annual impact on the football and volleyball programs, and it came about as part of the Stalwart Ram Relief Campaign.
“To me, it’s evidence these athletes had a great experience and they want to pay it forward,” Hilbert said. “That’s what it’s about. Above everything else, when you run any athletic program for a long period of time, you’re creating a community and a family. I think Marlee and Weston felt great about their time at Colorado State and they want to help others have that same feeling.”
The Rams standouts had talked about giving back to the University for some time. Looking at their growing family, the Richburgs said they felt now was the opportune time to do so, and the trust gives them a chance to help the athletic department while still taking into account family needs.
There was much they enjoyed about Colorado State and Fort Collins beyond their athletic venues. They both loved Old Town, and Marlee can recall their first date at Outback Steak House. Weston remembers going to the Holiday Twin Drive-In during the summer, a time when the campus was mostly filled with their teammates.
Having graduated and started their life paths, what the University meant to them started to carry more weight.
“I definitely think it’s a part of that. Looking back, I appreciate what CSU was more than I did while I was there,” Marlee said. “It does make us want to contribute and make it the best environment and best place possible for those kids to grow into adults, get their education, and follow whatever path they want to do.”
Football, livestock and more
Weston just finished his seventh season in the NFL, now a member of the San Francisco 49ers. He also used the degree he worked so hard for by partnering with his father, Danny, on the Richburg Cattle Company. They own a herd of registered Black Angus, running a cow-calf operation on the 7 Bar 0 Ranch, representing his football number at Colorado State.
“It’s all kinds of fun cowboy stuff,” Weston said. “There’s a lot to me, more than just football. A lot more.”
They found their dreams at Colorado State. Weston hopes this gift will continue to help others.
“Both programs are really huge for us. It’s been cool, because Marlee’s gotten to know some of the football people, and I’ve gotten to know Tom and his staff,” Weston said. “Both of those programs have been really huge for us and for our family, so we want to be able to do anything we can to support them and have those programs be able to help kids like they were able to help us back in the day.
“I hope it helps young people achieve their dreams,” he continued. “I came into CSU really honestly just wanting to play a year. I never thought I would do what I did. It was because donors gave and helped the program that I was able to do what I did and live my dream. If I can be a part of some young athlete living their dream and giving them all the resources that they need to live that dream, I think that’s a great thing we’d be able to do.”
Gift will keep on giving
Current football coach Steve Addazio recently met the Richburgs when they came back to visit the campus. Weston spoke with the team, and when the two were able to converse during practice, Addazio told Weston he was honored he came. Addazio told him coaches, like himself, will come and go, but programs are built on the sweat and passion of the players who laid the groundwork.
He knows this gift will continue to do that for years to come.
“I love the past players, and I love them coming around and being around the program,” Addazio said. “I love the concept as you make it in life and want to give back, you don’t forget and give back to the university that helped you get to where you are. I think it’s the way it should be on both ends – that the university produces for the student-athlete, and they recognize as they achieve success and they come back as someone who wants to continue to move the program forward.
“He and his wife are former great players here, and they are a wonderful family. It makes you feel really grateful.”
Already Rams for life, the Richburgs are more invested than ever after making the gift. They intend on visiting more often and to remain involved in any way they can. The gift will make an impact on the programs for which they starred, and this makes them even more excited for the future.
“There’s some pride there, too. I want to see CSU excel,” Weston said. “Marlee and I had a great time watching CSU in the NIT. It’s about having pride in our university, a university which provided a lot for us and us wanting to see other young athletes be impacted by the university like we were.”