On Friday, the Chicago Bears’ Israel Idonije was introduced as one of the three finals for the Walter Payton NFL Man of the Year Award.
Along with Idonije, finalists included Nnamdi Asomugha, of the Oakland Raiders, and Madieu Williams, of the Minnesota Vikings. The winner of the award will be announced before the Super Bowl on Sunday and their charity will receive a $20,000 grant.
At the press conference to introduce the finalists, Idonije expressed his gratitude to all those who have been a part of his foundation.
“It’s only because of community and team and everybody coming together that we’re able to reach out to Africa, schools in Chicago and Canada and impact lives,” Idonije said. “So, just thank you.”
The Israel Idonije Foundation benefits economically disadvantaged children in Chicago, Nigeria and Winnepeg. The foundation emphasizes education, and while he is the face of his foundation he isn’t the sole catalyst for its success.
“I stand here this morning,” Idonije said at the press conference, “really as a representative from all our people in Chicago that make the programs and the work and the things that we do in Chicago possible.”
It would be fitting for Idonije to be honored with the award on Sunday. After all he plays for the same organization as the award’s namesake, and he’s been influenced by watching the good that the Payton family has does around Chicago.
“Thank you for really being leaders as far as community service,” Idonije said to the family, “And doing what you can with your platform in our community in Illinois and in Chicago.”