The Robert Wood Johnson Foundation (RWJF) today named the Chicago White Sox as a recipient of the 2012 Steve Patterson Award for Excellence in Sports Philanthropy for the Chicago White Sox Volunteer Corps program. The award celebrates and promotes those in sports who are improving lives of others by leveraging the unique influence of sports.
The White Sox established the first of its kind Volunteer Corps, which has brought together more than 5,500 fans, players, coaches, and club executives to assist underserved Chicago neighborhoods through volunteer work. Since it was founded in 2009, the Corps has logged more than 17,000 hours of service, including participating in blood drives that have helped save up to 1,200 lives; repacking more than 150,000 pounds of food that has fed approximately 40,000 hungry families and individuals in Chicago; and taking part in renovation and beautification projects for Chicago public schools and Boys & Girls Club locations. Several other professional sports teams have replicated the Corps model.
The White Sox Volunteer Corps also was recognized with the 2011 Commissioner’s Award for Philanthropic Excellence, which was created to recognize outstanding community efforts of an MLB Club.
“While we are not in this for awards, we are honored to be recognized for our work in this area and will continue to encourage our fans and other supporters to be local change makers through their community service,” said Jerry Reinsdorf, chairman of the White Sox. “This award will be housed at U.S. Cellular Field, but it truly belongs to the fans and volunteers who have consistently donated their time and energy into helping make our local community a better place.”
Other winners announced today include golfer Notah Begay III and the Women’s Sports Foundation. Begay, who is the only full-blooded Native American to play on the PGA Tour, founded the Notah Begay III Foundation (NB3) to address the epidemics of childhood obesity and type 2 diabetes impacting Native American children, physical fitness, nutritional, and other health needs that are particular to the Native American community. The Women’s Sports Foundation (WSF), founded in 1974 by Billie Jean King, advances the lives of women and girls through sports and physical activity.
RWJF established the award in 2005 in memory of Steve Patterson, the UCLA basketball star, NBA player, and college coach who became known for his belief in and practice of using the power of sports philanthropy to make a difference. Patterson died of cancer in July 2004 at the age of 56.
“We are proud to present the Patterson Award to these three inspiring and visionary sports philanthropies,” said Risa Lavizzo-Mourey, RWJF president and CEO. “Through their dedication to increase community service, reduce childhood obesity, and bolster female physical activity and empowerment, each is making a measurable impact on the health and well-being of people in need, especially the most vulnerable.”