NEW YORK, New York (October 29, 2015) – The Heisman Trophy Trust has named former NFL all-pro quarterback Boomer Esiason as its tenth Heisman Humanitarian award winner in recognition of his valiant effort to fight cystic fibrosis through his Boomer Esiason Foundation. Esiason will be honored at the 81st Annual Heisman Memorial Trophy Gala on December 14 at the New York Marriott Marquis.
In addition to honoring the outstanding college football player of the year, the Heisman Trust’s mission is to provide opportunities for disadvantaged and afflicted children and families in communities across the country. Since the Trust assumed stewardship of the Heisman Trophy in 2002, it has donated over eight million dollars to more than two hundred (200) charities throughout the United States. The Trust established the Heisman Humanitarian Award in 2006 as an extension of those charitable endeavors, looking to recognize figures in the world of sports that give significantly of themselves to improve the lives of others.
Esiason is one of the most successful quarterbacks in NFL history. Drafted out of Maryland by Cincinnati in the second round of the 1984 draft, Esiason was named a four-time pro bowler, the 1988 NFL Most Valuable Player and the Walter Payton Man of the Year in 1995 before retiring after the 1997 season. He guided the Bengals to the 1989 Super Bowl and finished his career with over 37,000 passing yards and 247 touchdown passes. He has been a color analyst during his post-football career, working on every Super Bowl since 2000.
His life changed back in 1993 when, while at mini-camp for the New York Jets that year, Esiason was notified that his two-year-old son, Gunnar, was taken to the hospital with breathing difficulties. The youngster was soon diagnosed with cystic fibrosis, a disease of the respiratory and digestive systems. The Boomer Esiason Foundation (BEF) was formed soon afterward to fund research to find a cure for the disease. “I’m going to be the biggest enemy this disease has ever had,” Boomer said.
In its quest to find that cure, the BEF aims to bring together the brightest researchers and scientists while also providing scholarships, transplant grants, hospital grants, education and increased awareness of cystic fibrosis. The foundation educates people from all walks of life to become committed participants in the ongoing battle against CF and provides students and hospital staffs with the financial resources and educational tools they need to prepare for the challenges of the disease. BEF annually awards the largest number of scholarships to CF students in the country. The foundation, located in New York City, has raised in excess of $115 million over its life span.
Gunnar Esiason is now a 24-year-old graduate of Boston College. He undergoes daily treatments and takes cystic fibrosis medications, but he hasn’t let his condition hold him back–he was a quarterback for his high school football team, played forward on his ice hockey team and now coaches high school football and hockey.
“The Trust is proud to honor Boomer Esiason as our Heisman Humanitarian this year. Over the past 20 plus years, Boomer has worked tirelessly to combat Cystic Fibrosis: creating awareness and educating about the disease, assisting those that suffer and working to find a cure.” said William J. Dockery, Heisman Trophy Trust President. “His work through the Boomer Esiason Foundation has given hope to thousands that, one day, we will find a cure for this horrible disease.”
“Boomer epitomizes what the Heisman Humanitarian Award is all about, which is to recognize and honor individuals who give selflessly of themselves to assist underserved segments of our society, while also encouraging others to emulate these fine individuals.”
“I am deeply honored and humbled to be receiving the Heisman Humanitarian award.” stated Esiason. “When I started this fight against cystic fibrosis over 20 years ago, I never could have predicted the amazing impact my family and my team at BEF would have. We will continue to fight tirelessly to make CF stand for cure found; to make sure that all CF patients receive the care and support they deserve.”
Esiason joins an incredible group of former Heisman Humanitarian winners, including: Joey Cheek, Olympic speed skating gold medalist, for his dedication and contributions to the children of Darfur; George Martin, former defensive end of The New York Giants, who walked across America to raise funds for rescue and recovery workers at Ground Zero after 9/11; Pat LaFontaine, former NHL star who, through his Companions in Courage Foundation, builds interactive playrooms in Children’s hospitals to keep young patients connected to family and friends; Mia Hamm, world-renowned soccer player; who raises funds and awareness for families needing marrow or cord blood transplants and continues to grow opportunities for young women in sports; Warrick Dunn, former NFL running back, who has provided homes for single parent families to honor his mother’s memory; Marty Lyons, University of Alabama and New York Jets defensive tackle, whose foundation fulfills the special wishes of children with terminal or life threatening illness; Jeff Gordon, four-time NASCAR Cup Series champion and founder of the Jeff Gordon Children’s Foundation, which supports children battling cancer; David Robinson, former San Antonio Spurs center, who has dedicated himself to helping children and families in need in the San Antonio community; and Joe Torre, who works to end the cycle of domestic violence through his Safe At Home foundation.
Tickets to the 81st Annual Heisman Memorial Trophy Gala are available at www.Heisman.com. The Heisman Memorial Trophy Dinner is the only event during Heisman Weekend that is open to the public.
About the Heisman Trophy Trust
The Heisman Memorial Trophy annually recognizes the outstanding college football player whose performance best exhibits the pursuit of excellence with integrity. Winners epitomize great ability combined with diligence, perseverance, and hard work. The Heisman Trophy Trust ensures the continuation and integrity of this award. The Trust, furthermore, has a charitable mission to support amateur athletics and to provide greater opportunities to the youth of our country. Our goal through these charitable endeavors is for the Heisman Trophy to symbolize the fostering of a sense of community responsibility and service to our youth, especially those disadvantaged or afflicted.
About the Boomer Esiason Foundation
The Boomer Esiason Foundation supports the CF community in the here and now in a number of ways; including scholarships, transplant grants, exercise programs, and educational programs (podcasts, wind sprints, education days) as well as donating money to research.