Founded in 2017 by entrepreneurs Alycia Powell and Michelle Mays to help professional athletes further their philanthropic endeavors and social responsibility, Champions for Philanthropy hosted its first annual Most Valuable Philanthropist Super Bowl Awards Brunch on Thursday, January 31, during Super Bowl week at The Estate in Atlanta’s Buckhead area.
The inaugural event featured an awards ceremony to honor and celebrate NFL stars for their work to make a significant difference in the Atlanta region and beyond. This year’s honorees included Washington Redskins cornerback Josh Norman, retired NFL star and entrepreneur Takeo Spikes, and Los Angeles Chargers defensive end Darius Philon, along with local community leader and professional athlete mentor Rob Vaka of SignatureFD.
“While today was a celebration of philanthropy in professional sports, it was also an opportunity for like-minded individuals to come together to find new, actionable ways to pool their unique resources to make our communities even safer, healthier, more just, more financially secure, and perhaps most importantly, more compassionate,” stated Mays.
“This is just the beginning, and Michelle and I couldn’t be more thrilled with the outcome today,” Powell added.
Six-year NFL veteran and sports broadcaster Brandon Boykin served as emcee for the event. In addition, David Meltzer, CEO of Sports 1 Marketing and S1Media House, led honorees in a thought-provoking discussion about their perspectives on philanthropy as professional athletes. From their work supporting Boys & Girls Clubs of Atlanta to providing education technology resources for youth, the honorees each shared their motivations for paying it forward in their respective communities.
“I put my faith in my nonprofit organization. Before that, I didn’t want to do it. I didn’t have the means. I didn’t have anything,” stated Norman during the discussion. “But when that purpose to help people became more driven, I was able to get a little something in my pocket to where now I can really do what I want to do. Just having that faith and knowing that one day I would change people’s lives for the good kept me moving forward.”
The event, held in partnership with LW Branding, also featured brunch, a mimosa bar, a live jazz band, a silent auction and artwork for sale from renowned sports artist Justyn Farano as well as jewelry from Peter Marco of Beverly Hills, with approximately 100 guests from the sports, philanthropy and business worlds in attendance.
A portion of proceeds from the event will benefit charities designated by the MVPs as well as Boykin who is an Atlanta native. Designated charities include Norman’s Starz 24 Foundation and The Winning Edge Leadership Academy and its 2019 Game Changing Retreat in Atlanta for current and former student-athletes seeking to pursue careers in sports.