NEW YORK, Sept. 3, 2015 – For the second consecutive year, Elena Delle Donne of the Chicago Sky is the recipient of the Dawn Staley Community Leadership Award in recognition of her unparalleled work in the community in 2014, the league announced today. The award recognizes a player whose outreach inspires the community and reflects Staley’s leadership, spirit, charitable efforts and love for the game.
“Elena’s passion and dedication to her community are truly extraordinary,” said WNBA President Laurel J. Richie. “Her deep desire to help those around her inspires every person she meets, and she has distinguished herself as a true leader.”
During the 2014 offseason, Delle Donne worked on her game while maintaining a strong presence in the community: hosting basketball clinics, making hospital visits and serving as a Global Ambassador for Special Olympics. In honor of her sister Lizzie, who is blind, deaf, and suffers from autism and cerebral palsy, Delle Donne joined an elite group of Special Olympics Global Ambassadors to advance opportunities for people with intellectual disabilities. In further support of the cause, Delle Donne joined Sky Head Coach Pokey Chatman and the Maine-Niles Association of Special Recreation in February to host a basketball clinic for Special Olympics athletes.
Delle Donne has also helped raise awareness of Lyme disease, an ailment from which she suffers. After battling the disease for six years, Delle Donne became the first national ambassador for the Lyme Research Alliance (LRA), an organization dedicated to increasing awareness and funding for Lyme disease research and prevention. As an ambassador, Delle Donne will appear at LRA events across the country, spreading hope and awareness in search of a cure.
Delle Donne was named the Goodwill Ambassador for the Delaware 87ers and partnered with the team to host a VIP event with proceeds benefiting LymeAid 4 Kids, which raises money for families struggling to afford Lyme disease diagnosis and treatment.
“It is my pleasure to present Elena Delle Donne with the Dawn Staley Award for the second consecutive year,” said WNBA Legend and University of South Carolina Head Coach Dawn Staley. “Her model leadership in the community is incredible. Elena has been generous with her time and goes above and beyond the call of duty to enrich the lives of others in her community.”
“I am grateful to receive the Dawn Staley Community Leadership Award for a second time. Dawn has had a huge influence on me, both on and off the court, and it’s a privilege to be honored with this award,” said Delle Donne. “I strive to use the unique position I’m in to help make a difference in people’s lives, and I’m thankful to the WNBA, Special Olympics, Global Lyme Alliance and Dawn for encouraging me to do so. By sharing my own experiences, I have been able to help educate and inspire others to overcome their personal challenges, and I will always continue doing that.”
The Dawn Staley Community Leadership Award is presented annually. A designated committee selected Delle Donne as the winner from a group of nominated WNBA players. The WNBA will make a $10,000 donation to the Lyme Disease Association’s Lyme Aid 4 Kids fund of the on behalf of Delle Donne.