Thanks to his efforts to promote awareness of orphaned and abandoned children across San Diego County through the Rivers of Hope Foundation, Pro-Bowl Quarterback Philip Rivers of the San Diego Chargers was nominated as a finalist for the prestigious NFL Walter Payton Man of the Year Award, along with Baltimore Ravens Center Matt Birk and Chicago Bears Cornerback Charles Tillman.
Super Bowl XLVI was the first time Rivers had ever attended the nation’s biggest sports event. Although he attended as a spectator, this was no doubt a shining moment in the illustrious career of the Chargers franchise QB, not only because of all the excitement surrounding the big game in Indianapolis, but also because of the national attention his nomination brought to the mission of providing permanent homes for the orphaned, abandoned and unwanted youth.
“To think that there’s kids that don’t get [the love and the care], don’t get tucked in at night, don’t know where they’re going to school the next day, the next semester,” said Rivers during an interview on the NFL Network, “I’ve asked some of these kids and they don‘t even know their own birthday… It wasn’t about me doing something new. It‘s about getting awareness, gathering the community, and going.”
The NFL Walter Payton Man of the Year is an honor awarded to individuals whose achievements go above and beyond both on the field and off the field.
On the field, Rivers had a roller coaster of a year. While he threw a record-high 20 interceptions this 2011-2012 season, he also earned his fourth consecutive spot on the Pro-Bowl, a game in which he helped the AFC defeat the NFC with 190 passing yards and 2 touchdowns. The San Diego Chargers failed to make the playoffs for the second year in a row. However, Philip Rivers was still able to throw over 4,500 passing yards for the second year in a row, a feat that only four other quarterbacks had accomplished in NFL History, keeping Rivers relevant in the discussion of the sport’s elite players.
Off the field, his accomplishments are nothing short of phenomenal. Through events like the Philip Rivers 5k Fun Walk & Run and Philip Rivers Football Camp, the Rivers of Hope Foundation has raised over $650,000 in funds within the past two years to support their cause. Other ways his foundation helps the abandoned youth of San Diego include the Heart Gallery fundraiser and frequent field trips to Petco Park and Sea World.
The idea of starting a foundation for abandoned youth donned on Rivers and his wife Tiffany during a drive home from Disneyland in a car packed with their children. The thought that there are kids right in our backyard that aren’t so fortunate resonated with the couple, inspiring them to get in contact with existing organizations in San Diego County that deal with foster care.
The Man of the Year Award eventually went to Ravens Center Matt Birk. However, his nomination alone granted Rivers a total of $6,000 from the NFL towards his charity and greater public awareness about an issue that affects over a half a million children nationwide.
The San Diego Chargers have yet to make their first Super Bowl appearance since 1995. Whether or not we get there is an uncertainty. What San Diegans across the county can be sure of is that we have a good man on our side. A man who, with his high school sweetheart-turned wife, has ignited a spark of hope to orphaned, abandoned, and unwanted children right in our backyard.
To learn more the Rivers of Hope Foundation and to find out how you can help Philip Rivers in his mission visit his website today!