Steelers quarterback Ben Roethlisberger was named the Steelers 2013 Walter Payton Man of the Year, the team announced today.
Roethlisberger is one of 32 NFL team's Man of the Year award winners and qualifies for the league's national 2013 Walter Payton Man of the Year. The award recognizes a player's off-the-field community service as well as his playing excellence. The overall winner will be announced during Super Bowl XLVIII in New York/New Jersey.
In 2006, Roethlisberger started the Ben Roethlisberger Foundation, which makes grants to local police and fire departments with an emphasis on K-9 units and service dogs. The idea came when a police dog named Flip was shot and killed in the line of duty in 2006 in Roethlisberger's hometown. Since 2007, the Foundation has made 123 grants nationwide, totaling more than $1 million to 117 police and fire departments and several youth organizations. The canine grants have funded the purchase of at least 72 dogs, the training of more than 25 additional dogs and 54 handlers and safety and training equipment, food, vet services and housing for countless more.
For his contributions, Roethlisberger became the first non-law enforcement individual to be honored by the Annual Amen Corner Senator John Heinz Law Enforcement Awards in October 25, 2013.
One of his favorite charities is Make-A-Wish. He enjoys not only being part of the wish experience but helping to make other children's wishes come true. This year, his foundation made its second annual donation to Make-A-Wish of Greater Pennsylvania to help grant more wishes, increasing from $25,000 to $30,000.
He and his wife have participated in the annual Salvation Army Project Bundle Up shopping night, helping underprivileged children choose warm winter outerwear, and attend many of his teammate's charity events. He also provides a holiday dinner annually for those in need. This year it was for the Salvation Army of Western Pennsylvania.
He was honored with the Boys & Girls Club of Western Pennsylvania "National Champion of Youth Award" for his continued commitment to the community, particularly his work with children. He hosts an annual football camp, with many Boys & Girls Club members attending for free thanks to his generosity.
Roethlisberger was originally selected by the Steelers in the first round (11th overall) of the 2004 NFL Draft. He holds almost every passing record for Pittsburgh, including completions, passing yards, passer rating, completion percentage and career touchdown passes during the regular season. He has been named AFC Offensive Player of the Week nine times and was recently named AFC Offensive Player of the Month (November, 2013). A two-time Pro Bowler, Roethlisberger guided the Steelers to victories in Super Bowl XL and XLIII.