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Tillman named Bears' nominee for NFL Man of Year Award
December 30th, 2013

Charles Tillman has been selected by the Bears as their nominee for the Walter Payton NFL Man of the Year Award for the third straight year and the fifth time in the last seven years.

The prestigious award, which is named after the late Bears Hall of Fame running back, is the only league honor that recognizes a player’s community service as well as his playing excellence. It has been in existence since 1970 and honors NFL players who demonstrate outstanding balance in their lives between civic and professional responsibilities.

A two-time Pro Bowl cornerback, Tillman owns Bears career records with nine defensive touchdowns and eight interception return TDs. Off the field, he operates the Cornerstone Foundation, which benefits critically and chronically ill children and their families.

All 32 nominees, one from each NFL team, will receive a $1,000 contribution toward a charity of their choice, and the overall winner will get $25,000 to donate to his selected charity. The 2013 award winner will be announced during the week of the Super Bowl.

“It’s exciting for us to continue Walter’s legacy with giving back to charity, and Charles truly does a lot,” said Connie Payton, Walter’s widow. “He’s a great nominee for the Bears. He represents the Chicago Bears very well. It was exciting to see his name there [as the team’s nominee] again.”

Tillman was one of three finalists for the Walter Payton NFL Man of the Year Award in 2011, as was Bears defensive lineman Israel Idonije in 2010. Bears players who have won the award include Payton (1977), Dave Duerson (1987), Mike Singletary (1990) and Jim Flanigan (2000).

Tillman has shown a passion for football and giving back to those in need since being selected by the Bears in the second round of the 2003 NFL Draft out of Louisiana-Lafayette.

Since the creation of the Cornerstone Foundation in 2005, Tillman’s efforts have impacted over one million Chicago-area children and raised over $1 million. His foundation began by providing children with educational opportunities and resources to excel in the classroom.

In 2008, Tillman’s three-month-old daughter, Tiana, was diagnosed with dilated cardiomyopathy, which causes the heart to weaken and enlarge. It’s a condition that affects roughly 1 in 100,000 children in the United States.

Tiana received a life-saving heart transplant and is now healthy and active. Consequently, the Cornerstone Foundation changed its mission to improve the lives of critically and chronically ill children throughout the Chicago area by providing support and life-changing experiences.

“There are a lot of great causes out there, but children are near and dear to our hearts,” said Connie Payton. “I think it’s wonderful that Charles takes his time and gives back to kids.”

The Cornerstone Foundation’s programs include “Charles’ Locker,” “Field of Dreams,” “Holiday Celebration,” “Mother’s Champagne Brunch” and “The Tiana Fund.”

“Charles’ Locker” provides children and their families with access to iPads, notebook computers, DVD players, portable PlayStation game systems and other electronic handheld games to pass the time during recovery and treatment. There are currently five lockers in Chicago-area hospitals that benefit over 290,000 patients on an annual basis.

“Field of Dreams” provides magical memories to chronically and critically ill children and their families by fulfilling sports-related wishes and vacation dreams.

The “Holiday Celebration” takes place each December when Tillman and his wife Jackie visit a local hospital to pass out gifts, visit with families and partake in activities to help spread holiday cheer.

The “Mother’s Champagne Brunch” annually honors mothers of chronically and critically ill children for the sacrifices they make in caring for their sick kids.

“The Tiana Fund” provides assistance to economically at-risk families. The support is intended to strengthen their ability to care for themselves, enhance their stability and security, and improve their quality of life or their ability to contribute to the community.

Aside from the large impact of the Cornerstone Foundation, Charles and Jackie Tillman contribute their time and resources to a variety of organizations across the country that support the military, education, organ donation, and underprivileged children and families.

Donations to the Cornerstone Foundation can be sent to: 4 East Ogden Avenue #801, Westmont, IL 60559.