Tillman nominated for NFL Man of Year Award
January 3rd, 2013
Due in large part to his work with the Cornerstone Foundation he created in 2005, Charles Tillman has been named the Bears nominee for the 2012 Walter Payton NFL “Man of the Year” Award.
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.
In 1999, the NFL named its Man of the Year Award after Payton 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.
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 2012 award winner will be announced during the NFL Honors awards ceremony Feb. 2, the night before Super Bowl XLVII in New Orleans.
Tillman was one of three finalists for the award last year, 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).
Tillman, who has been voted to the Pro Bowl each of the last two seasons, has shown a passion for football and giving to those who need since he arrived in Chicago in 2003 after being selected by the Bears in the second round of the draft out of Louisiana-Lafayette.
Since the creation of the Cornerstone Foundation, 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.
The Cornerstone Foundation’s programs include “Charles’ Locker,” “Field of Dreams,” “Holiday Celebration,” “TendHER Heart Luncheon” 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 “TendHER Heart Luncheon” 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. In 2012, the Tiana Fund assisted over 50 families with their bills.
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. or by clicking here.