Princeton, N.J.—In honor of the 10th anniversary of the Steve Patterson Award for Excellence in Sports Philanthropy, the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation (RWJF) will present the Legacy Award and $10,000 cash to the Philadelphia Eagles Youth Partnership (EYP) and the Notah Begay III Foundation (NB3F). Among the 18 previous Patterson Award winners considered for the Legacy Award, EYP and NB3F stood out for the remarkable successes they have achieved using the award as a platform for growth.
“In this milestone year, we are honored to recognize two organizations that truly represent the impact the Patterson Award can have on deserving foundations,” said Alisha Greenberg, executive director of the Patterson Award. “We look forward to continuing our support for the Eagles Youth Partnership and the Notah Begay III Foundation as they sustain and expand their valuable work.”
The Eagles Youth Partnership was the inaugural winner of the Patterson Award in 2005. Since that time, organizations across the world have sought their assistance as a model philanthropic organization and their programming has grown to include Give Kids Sight Day which administers free eye screenings and, if needed, two free pairs of eyeglasses to uninsured children. This event is built upon the success of Eagles Eye Mobile and is indicative of how the EYP continues to address the needs of their community.
“We are so grateful that the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation is embracing the power of sport to improve children’s lives,” said Eagles Youth Partnership Executive Director Sarah Martinez-Helfman. “This award motivates us to continue the important, daily work of providing vision care, literacy programming and safe play spaces for the most vulnerable children in our region. We will invest this honorarium in staff development and innovation, and will do all we can to remain worthy of this recognition.”
“Our mission is to level the playing field for children,” said Christina Weiss Lurie, president of Eagles Youth Partnership, Eagles Social Responsibility. “Our signature programs, the Eagles Eye Mobile and Eagles Book Mobile, are out in our communities every single day working to make comprehensive vision care and literacy programs accessible to these children. Critical services like these, among others, will continue to strengthen us as a community. This award will help us move this program forward once again and it is an honor to have this work recognized.”
Notah Begay III is the only full-blooded Native American to play on the PGA Tour, and the only golfer to win the Patterson Award (2012). In two years, the spotlight of the Patterson Award has enabled the Notah Begay III Foundation to raise $3.25 million from organizations including the W.K. Kellogg Foundation and RWJF. NB3F addresses the epidemics of childhood obesity and type 2 diabetes impacting Native American children. One out of two Native American children born since 2000 will develop type 2 diabetes in their lifetime. Additionally, Native American children are at a higher risk of developing obesity and type 2 diabetes than any other demographic of children.
“This foundation means so much to me personally,” Begay said. “To be able to give back to Native American children across the country is so rewarding and the support that we’ve been given from the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation through receiving the Patterson Award in 2012 was really amazing. To win the Legacy Award now, we are so appreciative and truly honored to receive this recognition.”
“Everything about our work changed after winning the Patterson Award,” said Crystal Echo Hawk, executive director of NB3F. “So few Native American organizations get funding, in fact, we remain the only Native led nonprofit in the country investing in the reduction of childhood obesity in Native communities. These children were invisible before and this award made them visible.”
Since 1995, RWJF has contributed over $10 million total to the field of sports philanthropy. The Foundation established the Patterson Award as a flagship program in 2005 after three-time NCAA basketball champion and six-year NBA veteran Steve Patterson lost his battle with cancer at the age of 56.
Following his playing career, Patterson shared his knowledge of the game as a coach, including five seasons at Arizona State University. It was during this period that Patterson fell in love with the Phoenix community and committed the remaining years of his life to seeing its sporting culture flourish. Among his many accomplishments to this end, Patterson served as president of the Super Bowl XXX committee and helped found the Grand Canyon State Games as well the Maricopa County Council on Youth Sports and Physical Activity. Patterson’s wife, Carlette, has continued their work through Patterson Sports Ventures.
Spanning all of these efforts, Patterson’s fundamental calling in life was to foster personal and social advancement through sport. The award in his name serves as a tribute to his legacy and is presented each year to an individual athlete or coach, professional team and sports philanthropic organization positively impacting their communities.
For more information on the Legacy Award and the 2014 Steve Patterson Award presented in September, visit www.rwjf.org/patterson.
About Steve Patterson
Steve became widely known as a member of three John Wooden NCAA championship basketball teams at UCLA (1969/1970/1971), as an NBA player (1972 to 1976, Cleveland/1976, Chicago), and as head coach at Arizona State University (1985 to 1989). But it was his contributions off the court—uniting businesses and communities to help those less fortunate—that are his most enduring.
After Steve's death from cancer at age 56 on July 28, 2004, the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation created this first-of-its-kind award in 2005. It celebrates and promotes the selfless service of those within the world of sports whose passionate efforts make a difference in the lives around them.