San Jose Sharks defenseman Brent Burns elevated his game to the next level. He was already a Norris Trophy finalist, but he was recently named a finalist for ESPN’s Sports Humanitarian of the Year. He’s joined by Tina Charles of the New York Liberty, Carlos Dunlap of the Cincinnati Bengals and Chris Paul of the Los Angeles Clippers.
The second annual Sports Humanitarian of the Year Awards, presented by ESPN, will celebrate and honor leagues, teams, individuals and members of the sporting community that are using the power of sport to make a positive impact on society. The sports industry-wide event will return to The Conga Room at L.A. Live, Tuesday, July 12.
Laila Ali will return as host for the event, which will feature a performance by Grammy-nominated singer-songwriter Andra Day. Highlights of the evening will be showcased during a 30-minute program on ESPN, July 15, at 7 p.m. ET.
The Sports Humanitarian of the Year Award recognizes an athlete whose continuous, demonstrated leadership has created a positive impact on their community through sports. The winner will be able to direct a $100,000 grant from ESPN to the qualified charity related to the award-winning humanitarian efforts. The finalists will be able to direct a $25,000 grant to the charity related to their award-winning efforts.
Burns was influenced by his grandfather’s service during WWII and has worked diligently with United Heroes League, formerly known as Defending the Blue Line, an organization dedicated to ensuring military members are healthy and active through sports, since 2009. Dubbed “Burnzie’s Battalion,” Burns has donated more than $1.2 million in suite tickets to United Heroes League, regularly meets with veteran and active duty military members and has donated thousands of pieces of hockey equipment to military families. Burns also partners with Folds of Honor to provide scholarships to family members of injured and deceased military personnel.
The net proceeds of the event will benefit the Stuart Scott Memorial Cancer Research Fund at The V Foundation. The evening’s sponsors include Lilly Oncology and the Conga Room. Additionally, ESPN will grant a collective total of nearly $800,000 to the charities of the nominees and winners, double the amount awarded last year. In total, more than $1 million will be distributed to the community as a result of the initiative.
Nominees for the four categories and the honorees for the Stuart Scott ENSPIRE Award include:
• Sports Humanitarian of the Year finalists: Brent Burns (San Jose Sharks), Tina Charles (New York Liberty), Carlos Dunlap (Cincinnati Bengals) and Chris Paul (Los Angeles Clippers)
• Sports Humanitarian Team of the Year finalists: Detroit Pistons, LA Galaxy, San Francisco 49ers and San Francisco Giants
• Corporate Community Impact finalists: Bank of America, BASF, DICK’S Sporting Goods, Kaiser Permanente and Mercedes-Benz USA
• League Humanitarian Award: Winner to be announced at the dinner, July 12
• Stuart Scott ENSPIRE Award honorees: Billie Jean King, Robert Kraft and the 2015 University of Missouri Football Team
The finalists and winners have been determined by an independent selection committee, which includes: Derreck Kayongo, CEO of the Center for Civil and Human Rights; Nancy Lublin, founder and CEO of Crisis Text Line; Sab Singh, founder of Sports Doing Good and professor at Farmingdale State College; Caryl Stern, CEO of the US Fund for UNICEF; and Eli Wolff, director of the Inclusive Sports Initiative at the Institute for Human Centered Design and co-director of the Royce Fellowship for Sport and Society at Brown University.
“We are honored to once again gather the sports world to recognize these charitable individuals and organizations,” said Kevin Martinez, ESPN vice president of Corporate Citizenship. “Thanks to the collective support from numerous sports leagues and our sponsors, the inaugural Sports Humanitarian of the Year Awards was an enormous success with significant funds awarded to The V Foundation’s Stuart Scott Memorial Cancer Research Fund as well as so many other impactful causes. We plan to build upon that, and make this year an even more powerful showcase of how the power of sport can ENSPIRE social change.”