Hines Ward Named Steelers 2008 Walter Payton Man of the Year
*PITTSBURGH —*Hines Ward* is not only an important part of the Steelers' success on the field, but he is also a strong member of the team's involvement in the community. For his efforts, Ward has been named the Steelers 2008 Walter Payton Man of the Year.
Ward, who was a finalist for the national award in 2007, will be one of 32 NFL teams' Man of the Year winners who qualifies for the league's national 2008 Walter Payton Man of the Year award. The award recognizes a player's off-the-field community service as well his playing excellence. The overall winner will be announced during Super Bowl week in Tampa.
"I want to give these kids a sense of hope, a sense of inspiration," says Ward when talking about the children he assists through the Hines Ward Helping Hands Foundation.Ward himself is biracial, the son of a Korean mother and African-American father. He traveledto Korea, where he was born, and saw first-hand the discrimination faced by biracial kids in that country. In 2006 after being named Super Bowl XL MVP, Ward established his foundation as a tribute to his mother, Kim Young-He, who raised him as a single parent.
*Ward made dreams come true when he first hosted eight biracial Korean children in Pittsburgh for a weekend during the 2006 season. He has made this an annual event with the most recent trip the weekend of November 7, 2008. Ward annually travels to Korea during the off-season and reunites with the kids who have been to Pittsburgh. *
Since joining the Pittsburgh Steelers in 1998, Ward has annually participated in the Salvation Army's Project Bundle Up, which provides new winter outerwear for underprivileged children and was founded by Patricia Rooney, wife of Steelers' chairman Dan Rooney. This year Ward received the first annual Project Bundle Up award at the Salvation Army's "Doing the Most Good" dinner. According to the Salvation Army, "Hines has dedicated his time off the field to the betterment of inner city and underprivileged youth in the Pittsburgh community as well as abroad. Hines aims to support programs and services that better equip children for achieving and handling success in life. Indeed, with his dedication of both heart and soul both here and abroad, Hines Ward is considered by many to be the world's 'Ambassador of Hope' to children from all walks of life."
Each year Ward also hosts the Hoge/Starks/Ward golf outing to benefit the Caring Foundation and Caring Place, along with teammate Max Starks and former Steelers running back Merril Hoge. Proceeds benefit families in western Pennsylvania by raising funds to provide free healthcare benefits for children and adults and free grief support services for children, adolescents and their families who are struggling with the death of a parent or sibling.
Ward also participates in numerous team charitable events, such as Make-a-Wish and Children's Hospital visits.
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