Tillman Appears on TV with Payton family
January 26, 2014
One of three finalists for the 2013 NFL Walter Payton Man of the Year Award, Bears cornerback Charles Tillman recently appeared on WGN-TV news with Payton’s widow, Connie, and daughter, Brittney.
“We are extremely honored, the Cornerstone Foundation, for being one of the final three this year,” Tillman told anchor Pat Tomasulu. “I’m excited and we’ll see what happens.”
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.
Tillman will attend a luncheon Friday in New York, the site of Super Bowl XLVIII, with the two other finalists for the award, Carolina Panthers linebacker Thomas Davis and Arizona Cardinals kicker Jay Feely. The winner will be announced Saturday night during the third annual NFL Honors awards special on FOX.
“We love having Charles as a finalist,” said Connie Payton. “It really is exciting because, of course, we love our Bears. But more importantly, this award recognizes a player for not only what he does on the field but off the field, and we think Charles embodies a lot of what Walter did. He’s passionate about taking care of kids and giving back, and he’s hands on with what he does.”
Tillman founded the Cornerstone Foundation in 2005 to provide children with educational opportunities and resources to excel in the classroom. But after his three-month-old daughter, Tiana, was diagnosed with dilated cardiomyopathy and received a life-saving heart transplant in 2008, the mission was changed to improving the lives of critically and chronically ill children.
Since its inception, the Cornerstone Foundation has impacted over one million children and raised more than $1 million. The foundation’s signature programs include “Charles’ Locker,” “Field of Dreams,” “Holiday Celebration,” “TendHER Heart Luncheon” and “The Tiana Fund.”
The TendHER Heart Luncheon annually honors mothers of ill children for the sacrifices they make, giving them a support system and a chance to bond with other moms of sick kids.
During the WGN-TV appearance, Connie Payton lauded Tillman for not only helping critically ill children but for assisting their parents.
“Having gone through the illness with his daughter, he knows how hard it is for a parent to go through that, so he always gives back to them,” Connie said.
The NFL Man of the Year Award was named after Payton in 1999 as a tribute to his greatness both on and off the field. The Bears legend died on Nov. 1, 1999 of liver disease at the age of 45.
Tillman was one of three finalists for the award in 2011, as was Bears defensive lineman Israel Idonije in 2010. Bears players who have won the Man of the Year Award include Payton (1977), Dave Duerson (1987), Mike Singletary (1990) and Jim Flanigan (2000).
Aside from the large impact of the Cornerstone Foundation, Charles and his wife, Jackie, 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.
“He is so hands on, which I think is really important, and not only him but his family as well, his wife, Jackie,” said Brittney Payton, Walter and Connie’s 28-year-old daughter.
“They’re a great family. He’s a great father. He does so much in the community. He really is big on giving his time and meeting families and spending time with them, and I think that’s something that dad did as well. There’s so much that parallels there, so we’re really honored.”