Mike Ditka – Nominee for Humanitarian of the Year

Mike Ditka – Nominee for Humanitarian of the Year

By Erik Erlendsson

On the football field, Mike Ditka earned the nickname “Iron Mike’’ for his hard-nosed style of play. That no-nonsense approach carried over to his coaching days.

Little did few understand that even “Iron’’ has a melting point.

Ditka serves as the President for Gridiron Greats Assistance Fund, a non-profit organization started in 2007 by former Green Bay Packers’ lineman Jerry Kramer that helps provide medical care and financial grants to retired NFL players in dire need. The fund helps provide hands-on assistance to help retired players and their families deal with hardships faced after their playing days are over. Among those services: medical assistance, transportation costs for medical evaluations and surgeries, financial assistance for housing, utilities, medications and the coordination of services for food, car payments and childcare.

Helping take care of the pioneers of a game that provided Ditka with so much as a player, coach and broadcaster, is a special cause that is close to Ditka’s heart. After a 12-year playing career followed by a 14-year coaching career and now an ESPN analyst, Ditka wanted to find a way to give back to the game. As the chairman of Gridiron Greats, Ditka works alongside other former greats of the game such as Gayle Sayers, Marv Levy, Kyle Turley and Matt Birk to raise funds to support the program with celebrity events, celebrity autographed memorabilia and a unique line of merchandising.

Ditka made football his life since his days at the University of Pittsburgh as a tight end where he was a unanimous All-American in 1960. Drafted with the fifth overall pick in the 1961 draft by the Chicago Bears, he was named NFL Rookie of the year in 1961. Ditka ended his playing career as a five-time Pro Bowl selection, won two championships and was named to the NFL 75th Anniversary Team. As he coach he led the Chicago Bears to a championship in Super Bowl XX and was named NFL Coach of the Year twice.

Ditka, a full-time broadcaster since 2000, is also a member of both the College and Pro Football Hall of Fame.

You can support your favorite nominee in this campaign by favoriting, donating, tweeting and joining his/her team with a chance to be recognized as one of his/her top supporters.  Starting Friday, June 9, you can also come back daily to “Boost” your favorite nominee.  Fans receive points for joining a team, donating, tweeting, boosting or responding to “ do-gooder challenges”.

The direct link to Mike’s page is https://asu.givkwik.com/MikeDitka

About the award: Started in 2013 by Alan Pavlosky and Scott Manthorne, Co-Founders of All Sports United, the Most Valuable Philanthropist seeks to recognize the effort of deserving sports philanthropists each year and bring positive news while highlighting the amazing charitable work of many in the sports community.  The winner of the award will receive $10,000 to his or her charity of choice.  The campaign is supported by technology partners Givkwik and xocial.  Each of the partners plays a crucial role in executing the campaign.  Special Thanks to All Sports United Supporter Jeff Tutor for his contributions to the campaign

 

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