At a ceremony held Tuesday at the Conga Room at L.A. Live, the Chicago Bulls and Tamika Catchings (WNBA’s Indiana Fever), were honored for the positive impact they have on their community, taking home the team and individual honors at the first-ever Sports Humanitarian of the Year Awards, presented by ESPN and PlayStation®. The inaugural event brought together various sports leagues and governing bodies to pay tribute to the collective good of sports and to raise more than $500,000 in net proceeds for The V Foundation’s Stuart Scott Memorial Cancer Fund, as well as funding various grants.
Catchings, honored with the Sports Humanitarian of the Year, received a $75,000 grant to advance the impact of her charity, Catch the Stars Foundation. Catchings teaches youth about embracing their differences, building their self-esteem and overcoming obstacles. The Foundation also promotes fitness, literacy and mentoring to youth in Indianapolis. Catchings has served on the U.S. Department of State’s Council to Empower Women and Girls through Sports and has supported countless programs in the community through her unwavering volunteer efforts and financial support.
“I am humbled and very appreciative of the ESPN family, along with all of the people who voted for my Catch the Stars Foundation and me,” Catchings said. “Winning this award is way more valuable than the monetary donation that comes along with it – it’s about being able to continue to impact the lives of so many youth that aspire to dream and reach their goals. We will continue pouring our efforts into the lives of our youth through our fitness, literacy and mentoring programs. What an honor and a blessing to be able to bless others!”
She was selected from a category that featured other finalists Anquan Boldin, San Francisco 49ers (NFL), John Cena (WWE) and Henrik Lundqvist, New York Rangers (NHL). Each of the finalists received a $25,000 grant to the charity related to their humanitarian efforts.
The Chicago Bulls, which won in the Sports Humanitarian Team of the Year category, received a $75,000 grant to the qualified charity related to its award-winning humanitarian efforts. The Chicago Bulls’ work in the community is a collaborative effort among the team’s players, fans, corporate partners, community partners and front office staff. Last year alone, the Bulls organized more than 100 community events focused on youth education, the military, violence prevention and health and wellness. More than 30,000 people were impacted as a result of their continuous demonstration of how teamwork between athletes and the team’s community relations can create a significant impact on surrounding communities and causes. Additionally, the Bulls distributed $2.5 million in cash and in-kind donations in support of local organizations.
Accepting for the Bulls was President of Chicago Bulls Charities Nancy Reinsdorf who said, “It’s overwhelming to see the response of everyone in this room tonight and the outpouring of emotions. To me, it’s so invigorating and reenergizing that we are going to leave here and not just change the lives of the three community partners we have chosen through this grant, but to be able to go back and show that we are recognized for our work and then go out there and do more good work.”
The other finalists for the Sports Humanitarian Team of the Year were the Portland Timbers (MLS), San Francisco 49ers (NFL) and WWE Community Relations. Each received a $25,000 grant.
Also recognized during the evening were the four (previously announced) Stuart Scott ENSPIRE (ESPN + inspire) Award winners — individuals and causes that utilized a risk-taking and innovative approach to help others in need. The honorees were Pete Carroll, “Like A Girl” Campaign, Bud and Sue Selig and the You Can Play Project and they each received a $25,000 grant.
ESPN will televise a 30-minute special featuring highlights from the Sports Humanitarian of the Year Awards next Thursday, July 23 at 8:30 p.m. ET.