Chargers President Dean Spanos Wednesday accepted the Outstanding Philanthropic Corporation Award from the Association of Fundraising Professionals San Diego Chapter (AFPSD).
Chargers Team President Dean Spanos was presented the award by AFPSD Chapter President John Brannelly and Honorary Committee Chair Matthew Hervey. Past honorees of this award include Jack in the Box, Target, Wells Fargo and Cox Communications.
“I’m honored to be chosen from among the many organizations in San Diego that do so much for our community,” said Spanos. “The Chargers are an institution in San Diego and since day one, we’ve always believed we have a responsibility to lead by example.”
The National Philanthropy Day awards luncheon is a day marked to recognize philanthropy and volunteerism. Proceeds help promote high ethical fundraising standards and strive to preserve and enhance community service.
Spanos and his family have a long-standing tradition of community leadership and service. Spanos embraces that role by championing a wide-range of issues, particularly youth fitness, high school sports and education, San Diego’s military community and its law enforcement and public safety departments. Through this commitment to leadership, the Spanos family and the team has earned the reputation as one of pro football’s most philanthropic families and one of Southern California’s most active contributors.
Some of the more visible examples of their support include the Chargers Champions physical fitness, nutrition and athletic grant program, Chargers Annual Blood Drive, Holiday Food Drive, Back-To-School shoe distribution, Junior Charger Girl fundraising program, weekly dinners for homeless, Junior Chargers Training Camps and the Children’s Bike Distribution, the team provides funding and priceless resources to the San Diego community.
“For more than 30 years the Chargers Blood Drive has made a difference in the lives of tens of thousands of local hospital patients at a time when blood supplies would have fallen to extremely low levels,” San Diego Blood Bank’s Director of Community Relations and Marketing Lynn Stedd said. “Over the years more than 60,000 pints of blood have been donated at Chargers Blood Drives. The San Diego Blood Bank is so very grateful for the team’s incredible ongoing support.”
Youth sports have been a focal point for Spanos’ support through the years. In 2000, the team supplied the initial funding to organize the first-ever freshman football and girls volleyball programs in the 16 San Diego City High Schools. In 2007, Spanos’ financial support made possible the creation of a new Challenger Division for San Diego’s Palomar Pop Warner League.
The Alex Spanos All-Star Classic, the longest-running high school all-star football game in California, also highlights the team’s commitment to being one of the largest supporters of high school athletics. Along with the All-Star Classic, the Chargers sponsor the CIF Championship games, played annually at Qualcomm Stadium, and participate in the NFL High School Coach of the Week program.
Spanos continues a tradition of philanthropy that his father Alex Spanos began when he bought the team in 1984. Since Alex created it in 1995, the Chargers Community Foundation has provided $9 million dollars of support to the community. More than $4 million of that funding supported local schools and students through the Chargers Champions program, implemented by Dean in 2000. Chargers Champions provides grants to county schools for physical fitness, nutrition and athletic programs. This year alone, more than $240,000 was awarded to nine San Diego area-schools to fund varying needs from a weight room at Escondido High School, to an outdoor fitness structure at Carlton Oaks Elementary.
“There is absolutely no way in the world any of these schools would have seen a fraction of this kind of money for fitness projects in the current budget climate,” Jim Esterbooks from the County of Education Office said. “We are incredibly lucky to have a community partner like the Chargers.”
Alex’s generosity and leadership started the day he became a part of the San Diego community. He established a relationship with Radys Children’s Hospital that still flourishes. From the Brooke Humphries Fund creation, the Toss for Tots pledge program, the annual Teddy Bear Drive and Kid’s Newsday, Children’s Hospital remains one of the top recipients of the team’s and the family’s support.
“The San Diego Chargers contribute so much more than just touchdowns and field goals,” said Executive Director David Gillig at Rady Children’s Hospital Foundation, one of the San Diego organizations that nominated the team for the 2010 Outstanding Philanthropic Corporation award. “The team has been a community leader for more than 50 years. Radys Children’s Hospital is just one of the hundreds of local charities benefiting from the Chargers’ support.”
Whether it’s through a Foundation program or the creation of relief efforts, the Spanos family is always willing to lend a helping hand, extending their generosity across state lines and the globe.
When firestorms hit San Diego in 2003 and 2007, the Spanos family stepped up each time and donated $1 million to aid fire relief and setup funds for rebuilding efforts. In 2005, the team donated $300,000 to the American Red Cross for the Hurricane Katrina relief fund and to the South Asia tsunami victims.
“San Diego Food Bank’s ability to provide food to people in need would not be possible during a natural disaster without the help from the corporate community,” said Mitch Mitchell, Board Chairman of the San Diego Food Bank. “It is from our emergency pantry that we are able to help families and individuals alleviate hunger. We are extremely grateful to the Chargers and the Spanos family for their support of our efforts. The San Diego community is lucky to have such support.”
The tradition of community service also resonates with Chargers players. Countless players have made an impact well beyond the football field. From Rolf Benirschke spearheading the first Chargers Blood Drive to Philip Rivers hosting a 5K for foster children, players have always played an active role in the community, On Tuesdays, the players’ only day off during the busy season, it’s common to see them in the community visiting schools, hospitals or military bases.
For the last 13 seasons, players along with help from Spanos have also teamed up area non-profit agencies to send local youth to Chargers games through the Chargers Community Corner. The program provides children and their families a chance to enjoy the excitement of attending a Chargers game. Nearly 2,000 tickets to Chargers home games will be donated to youth organizations this year.
“I think as professional athletes we have the ability to reach a lot of people in the community. I haven’t been around any other teams, but I cannot imagine another team having a group of guys that enjoys being involved in the community as much as our guys do. I think we look at it more as a responsibility for us to be a part of the community,” Rivers said.
An honorary committee selected the National Philanthropy Day award recipients after reviewing formal nominations submitted by community members.