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Heisman Humanitarian Winners


The Heisman Humanitarian award was established in 2006 by The Heisman Trophy Trust to recognize and honor selfless athletes who continually give back to the community and seek to improve the lives of others. The award was created with the hope that others would follow the recipient's footsteps and pursue their own charitable causes.

The Heisman Humanitarian Award has been given to the following individuals:

2012: Jeff Gordon, Stock Car Racing Champion
2011: Marty Lyons, former NFL Star
2010: Warrick Dunn, FSU & NFL Star
2009: Mia Hamm, Women's Soccer Legend
2008: Pat LaFontaine, former hockey superstar
2007: George Martin, former NFL Star
2006: Joey Cheek, Olympic speed skating gold medalist

Below is a brief description of previous Heisman Humanitarian awardees.

Jeff Gordon is a four-time NASCAR Cup Series champion and, with 86 career wins, is one of the world's most recognizable drivers. Gordon began his racing career at the age of five and had won 35 main events by age six. His penchant for success continued throughout his career, emphasized by his rank of third on all-time wins list.

Gordon's success extends far beyond the racetrack. Inspired by his crew chief's son's battle with leukemia in 1992, he began supporting a variety of organizations over two decades ago. In 1999, Jeff established the Jeff Gordon Children's Foundation to aid in the fight against pediatric cancer. With the Foundation's support, organizations are able to improve patients' quality of life, provide essential treatments, and conduct medical research that brings us closer to a cure every day.

The Jeff Gordon Children's Foundation has contributed over $11 million to foundations that support children battling cancer.

To learn more about the Jeff Gordon Children's Foundation, please visit

Marty Lyons was drafted by the New York Jets in the first round of the 1979 NFL Draft. He entered the NFL following a successful career as an All-American defensive tackle at the University of Alabama, where he helped lead the team to a National Championship in 1978. Lyons enjoyed a flourishing professional football career for eleven seasons with the New York Jets. He was a member of the famed "New York Sack Exchange," one of the top defensive lines in NFL history.

While still active as a player, Lyons established The Marty Lyons Foundation when he realized there was much more to life than football. The Marty Lyons Foundation was established to fulfill the special wishes of children who have been diagnosed as having a terminal or life threatening illness by providing and arranging special wish requests. Since 1982, Lyons' Foundation has brought much-needed joy to children and families nationwide.

The Marty Lyons Foundation has chapters around the country that have together granted more than six thousand wishes.

To learn more about The Marty Lyons Foundation, please visit

Warrick Dunn was drafted by the Tampa Bay Buccaneers 12th overall in the 1997 NFL Draft, after playing college football at Florida State. Dunn was named AP NFL Offensive Rookie of the Year in 1997 and earned three Pro Bowl selections in his career. He played for the Atlanta Falcons from 2002 to 2007 between stints in Tampa Bay. After his career, Dunn took a stake in the Falcons' ownership group led by Arthur Blank and is a minority owner of the team.

During his 1997 rookie season, Dunn started Homes for the Holidays to share his mother's dream of owning a home with other single parents. Although his mother did not live to see her dream fulfilled, Dunn has been able to award more than $2 million in furnishings and $500,000 in down payment assistance to over 100 single parents and over 250 children and dependents.

Dunn expanded his efforts with the creation in 2002 of the Warrick Dunn Family Foundation. Dunn draws on life lessons and experiences from his own life and applies them to the Family Foundation's mission of providing additional programs and support to single-parent families and the community.

For more information on the Warren Dunn Family foundation, please visit

Warrick Dunn was presented the 2010 Heisman Humanitarian Award by the Heisman Trophy Trust. (L-R) Trustees Anne Donahue, Jim Corcoran, Sandy Wurmfeld and Dunn

Mia Hamm, widely regarded as one of the best women soccer players of all time, was the 2009 recipient of the Heisman Humanitarian Award.  Hamm began leaving her mark on the sports world at an early age.  In 1987, at age 15, she became the youngest woman to ever play with the U.S. National Team. Hamm went on to win two Olympic gold medals, an Olympic silver medal, two FIFA World Cups and four NCAA National Championships with the University of North Carolina.  She was also a founding member of the Women's United Soccer Association and led the Washington Freedom to the Founder's Cup.  Over the years Hamm has won numerous awards for her efforts on and off the field including ESPN's ESPY Awards for Female Athlete of the Year and Soccer Player of the Year.

Hamm started the Mia Hamm Foundation after her brother Garrett passed away due to complications associated with aplastic anemia. The foundation operates with two goals in mind: raising funds and awareness for families needing marrow or cord blood transplants and continuing the growth in opportunities for young women in sports.  Hamm chose these missions because they are issues that have impacted her personally throughout her life.

Through her foundation and charitable works, Hamm continues to work toward equality while promoting strength and confidence in young women.  Hamm is a pioneer in her sport and a role model for athletes and fans alike who believe in equal opportunity, Title IX legislation, and the love of the game.

For more information on the Mia Hamm Foundation, please visit

Pat LaFontaine, recipient of the 2008 Heisman Humanitarian Award, is the President and founder of the Companions in Courage Foundation. In just the last five years the foundation's efforts have gone to raising funds to build interactive playrooms in hospitals throughout North America. Through innovative communications tools, these playrooms replace the isolation of a hospital with a connection to family, friends and celebrities during each hospital stay. The mission of Companions in Courage is quite simple. No child in the fight for life or health should ever have to go through it alone. At Companions in Courage Foundation, they aim to give courage, friendship, compassion and support to those children and families who are overcoming illness and life-threatening obstacles.

The foundation is currently preparing to open a Lion's Den interactive game room at Children's Hospital of Philadelphia- marking the 9th hospital on their game room network. This room - with a clubhouse feel - introduces video games, PCs, and video conferencing to the healing process enabling sick children to connect to the outside world during their hospital stay.

The foundation has also delivered almost 300 custom-built mobile XBox 360 units to more than 60 other hospitals across North America. Microsoft has built an XBox Live online community that enables these children to play with kids in other hospitals in a safe, online world. LaFontaine recently brought the Stanley Cup for a tour of all Lion's Dens and he has brightened the day of patients in hospitals from Montreal to Jacksonville.

On a recent Lion's Den Room visit, Dr. Mehmet Oz said, "When kids get sick, we have to remember that they're still kids. They still want to have fun doing the same things they did when healthy. How better to do that than in a safe environment where they can play with other kids around the country who are facing similar challenges?"

Oz added, "By getting kids to understand that they don't have to be lonely or isolated when recovering from an illness we can address some of the stress-related disorders that we know hinder their ability to recover. It's that holistic approach to wellness that gets these kids better faster and keeps them out of hospitals."

For more information on the Companions in Courage Foundation please visit:

George Martin was awarded the Heisman Humanitarian Award in 2007. Martin anchored the NY Giants defense as a defensive end from 1975-1988. He served as co-captain of the Giants' Super Bowl championship team in 1986, as well as President of the National Football League Players Association (NFLPA). Following his career as a professional football player he went on to become a successful business executive and humanitarian.

On September 11, 2001, Martin lost friends in the attacks. In the aftermath of 9/11, he learned about the thousands of the rescue and recovery workers from all 50 states that were suffering from various health related issues due to the hazards they faced while serving at Ground Zero. To help those workers, Martin founded and directs a Journey for 9/11 to raise awareness about and funds for their medical monitoring and treatment. In September 2007, Martin began a charitable cross-country walk from the George Washington Bridge in New York City to San Diego, CA. He finished his walk on June 21, 2008, and touched thousands of lives along the way. In total, Martin walked through portions of 13 states and Washington DC, wearing out 27 pairs of sneakers and 413 sets of socks. Martin lost 41 pounds during the 3,003-mile walk, while gaining countless friends and supports along the way.

To date, Martin has raised more than $2 million for the treatment of ailing Ground Zero workers. Hackensack University Medical Center (N.J.), North Shore-Long Island Jewish Health Systems and the Mt. Sinai Medical Center are matching in medical services all donated funds from the Journey. Although Martin completed the walk, the mission is still ongoing. The ailing heroes are still in need of more funds for treatment, and Martin's charitable initiative continues.

For more information or to find out how you can participate, please visit:

2007 Heisman Humanitarian winner George Martin accepts award
from 2006 winner Joey Cheek.

Joey Cheek, an Olympic gold medalist and active philanthropist, was the 2006 recipient of the Heisman Humanitarian Award. In 2006, after winning the gold medal in the men's 500 speed skating competition, Cheek promised to donate his gold medal bonus ($25,000) to the Right to Play Organization. The international humanitarian organization promotes sports as an outlet and tool to aid in the development of children living in underprivileged countries.

Right To Play programs are currently being implemented in 23 countries throughout the world. Right To Play uses sports as a way to teach children about teamwork, fair play, conflict resolution, self-esteem, communication, commitment, respect, and integrity. Right To Play is committed to improving the lives of children and to strengthening their communities by translating the best practices of sport and play into opportunities to promote development, health and peace.

Cheek joined other athletes in support of this cause and has also co-founded his own philanthropy, Team Darfur, with UCLA water polo player Brad Greiner. Team Darfur is an international coalition of athletes committed to raising awareness about and bringing an end to the crisis in Darfur, Sudan. Cheek is a 2001 graduate of Princeton University, where he studied economics and Chinese.

To learn more about Cheek and Team Darfur please visit

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