Notah Begay III Receives Robert Wood Johnson Foundation’s Prestigious Patterson Award for Sports Philanthropy

Robert Wood Johnson Foundation Announces 2012 Winners of the Steve Patterson Award for Excellence in Sports Philanthropy

Award Emphasizes the Power of Sports to Advance Social Good

(PRINCETON, N.J.) – The Robert Wood Johnson Foundation (RWJF) today named the Chicago White Sox, Notah Begay III Foundation, and Women’s Sports Foundation recipients of the 2012 Steve Patterson Award for Excellence in Sports Philanthropy.  The award celebrates and promotes those in the sports world who are improving lives by leveraging the unique influence of sports.  This year’s winners join an impressive and growing list of sports organizations and individuals who are answering the call to give back.

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, MD, MBA, 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.”

The Chicago White Sox established the first of its kind White Sox Volunteer Corps, which brings together thousands of 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 teams in Major League Baseball and the National Football League have replicated the Corps model.

“The White Sox have operated under the principle that professional sports teams have a responsibility to give back to their communities,” said Jerry Reinsdorf, Chairman of the Chicago White Sox. “We are honored to be recognized for our work in this area and will continue to galvanize our fans and other supporters to be local changemakers through their community service.”

Notah Begay III, 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 Foundation approaches the childhood obesity and diabetes epidemics in Native communities by creating sports, nutritional, health, and community development programming that incorporates local cultures and traditions and by empowering tribal leaders to take action.  In 2010, the Johns Hopkins Center for American Indian Health conducted two consecutive evaluations of NB3’s San Felipe Pueblo soccer program.  They found that the program significantly impacts the physical fitness of Native American children. The organization also works to call national attention to the health needs of Native American children, who receive less than 1 percent of philanthropy foundation funding.

“I’m thankful that I can use my public platform to raise more awareness of Native American health issues and the need to address them,” says Notah Begay III, four-time PGA Tour winner and founder of the NB3 Foundation.  “Sports can play a transformative role in the life of a young person, and we’re pleased that this award will help highlight our mission to fight childhood obesity and type 2 diabetes.”

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.  From aspiring Olympic athletes to sedentary girls in underserved communities, WSF programs help girls and women of all abilities reach their potential. Since 1984, the Foundation has awarded more than 1,250 grants and $1.4 million through the Travel & Training Fund to help cover the expenses of talented amateur athletes as they advance to the highest competition levels in their athletic fields. The Foundation’s GoGirlGo! program provides girls in underserved communities with access to physical activity programs as well as teaches community leaders, volunteers, and coaches how to sustain local initiatives.  In 2011, the Foundation launched a research partnership with the University of Michigan to create the first-ever Sports, Health and Activity Research and Policy Center for Girls (SHARP). Building on more than 25 years of the Foundation’s research leadership understanding barriers and opportunities to get more women and girls active, the SHARP collaborative will further inform WSF’s outreach, programmatic, and advocacy efforts.

“The 40th anniversary of Title IX and the outstanding achievements of our female athletes in the Summer Olympics elevate the platform for supporting women and girls through sports,” expressed Kathryn Olson, CEO of the Women’s Sports Foundation. “Intersected with the health and social issues we face among youth, in underserved communities, and in particular for girls, the platform carries even greater significance for the work of the Women’s Sports Foundation.  “The Patterson Award speaks to our collective achievements, and we are grateful for that recognition.”

“Today’s winners reveal just how much Steve’s lifelong legacy to improve lives through sports has taken hold,” said Carlette Patterson, Steve’s widow and president of Patterson Sports Ventures.  “It’s clear that the field of sports philanthropy is growing and thriving and I hope more sports organizations will use their incredible leverage to make a positive difference in their communities and nationwide.”