Around the metro area, Atlanta Falcons players are known for their weekly volunteer trips out of Flowery Branch and into metro Atlanta communities on Tuesdays, their only day off.
On a day when they can easily sleep in late or run errands, they can be found around town visiting hospitals, schools and giving back to kids and organizations.
The Falcons recognized players and Atlanta community members who have done outstanding volunteer during the third annual Atlanta Falcons Community Honors Dinner at Rays on The River, Monday night.
At the ceremony, Falcons punter Matt Bosher was named the team’s nominee for the NFL Walter Payton Man of the Year. Since 1970, the NFL has given the award to honor a player’s volunteer and charity work as well as his excellence on the field. Each club is responsible for selecting their own nominee while the Walter Payton NFL Man of the Year winner will be selected by a panel and recognized on the field before kickoff of the Super Bowl in New Orleans.
Former Falcons Running Back and current minority owner of the team, Warrick Dunn, won the national award in 2004. The award was known as simply the NFL Player of the Year award until 1999 when it was renamed to honor the legacy of the late Chicago Bears running back. The national winner receives a check for $25,000 to be donated to a charity of their choice, while local team winners each receive $1,000 for their favorite charity.
Bosher was also recognized as the the Falcons Community All-Star for the Month of November. A two-year veteran and graduate of The University of Miami with a degree in History, he and teammates kicker Matt Bryant and long snapper Josh Harris, purchased and served a catered Thanksgiving dinner to 250 people at My Sister’s House and the Atlanta Mission’s Women’s and Children’s Shelter where they signed autographs and took photos with the group.
During the season, Bosher made five surprise visits to Gwinnett County Fire stations to thank service men and women for their hard work and dedication in the community in commemoration of September 11. He also signed autographs and took photographs with fans at a Publix Super Market in Newnan, Ga., as part of the Falcons Tailgate team. Bosher has participated in all 13 games this season with 48 punts for 2,275 yards with a 47.4 average.
When asked what volunteer activity that stood out for him Bosher noted the Falcons’ Dazzle & Dine event, which honored five breast cancer survivors for their commitment to the fight against breast cancer. Prior to dinner, the ladies were treated to a special day at Jamison Shaw Hairdressers where they received hair, makeup and nail services. Bosher invited his mother, a breast-cancer survivor, and he spoke to the group about his personal experience.
“Having mom there to be a part of the event was great,” said Bosher who was accompanied to the Honors dinner by his father, Carl. “I’m happy to be a part of a franchise that from top to bottom puts great emphasis on getting out in the community. It’s humbling to go out and meet so many people. It makes them feel better and you feel better yourself.”
Other Falcons players recognized at the dinner were:
September Community All-Star Wide Receiver Kevin Cone, a 2010 Georgia Tech graduate with a degree in Mechanical Engineering who signed autographs and took photos with patients at the Shephard Pathways Rehab Center and participated in the Falcons First Down For Fitness presented by Kimberly-Clark Professional event at Berkmar Middle School In Lilburn
October All-Star Linebacker Stephen Nicholas, a 2006 graduate of the University of South Florida with a degree in Communications who participated in the Falcons Dazzle & Dine for breast cancer survivors and visited My Sister’s House and Atlanta Mission’s Women’s and children’s shelter as well as provided Through the Rise Up and Share program, tickets for the shelter women and children to attend a Falcons home game
December All-Star Linebacker Sean Weatherspoon, a 2009 graduate of the University of Missouri with a degree in Interdisciplinary Studies who served as an Ambassador for the 2012 Atlanta Falcons First Down for Fitness program ,visited elementary and middle schools leading students n fitness activities and hosted ten families at the World of Coca-Cola for a special day that included a tour, pizza party and questions and answers.
Awards were also given to everyday people who embodied the spirit of giving. Atlanta Falcons Community Quarterback Award honors volunteers in Georgia (ages 13 and over) who show leadership and dedication in improving their communities. Each month during the 2012 NFL season an Atlanta Falcons Community Quarterback was selected by a panel of civic and non-profit leaders. Each winner received a $1,000 grant from NFL Charities to support the organization served. One person is selected from among monthly winners as the MVP.
Bob Lehrer was named the 2012 Community Quarterback MVP. A $4,000 grant from NFL Charities will be presented to Habitat of for Humanity-North Central Georgia in his honor. Lehrer was the September Community Quarterback winner.
Other Community Quarterback honorees were: Anne Townsley (October winner and a Fernbank Museum of Natural History volunteer), Lauren O’Brien (November winner who works to ensure all people have access to quality orthopedic and prosthetic medical equipment) and Solomon Roberts (December winner and as senior at Tucker High School who serves as a volunteer coach for the Fugees Family under 14 soccer team) for their commitment to giving back to the community.
Falcons President & CEO Rich McKay noted that the Falcons have given more than $18 million and have had 3,800 volunteer hours. The team has also helped more than 10,000 kids in the fight to combat childhood obesity. During his remarks he highlighted the NFL Hometown Huddle program.
“During Home Town Huddle Day every player on their day off is out and about all day long,” he said. “We are the only team in the league doing it right now. There was a time when all teams did it. We think it is the right thing to do.”