KANSAS CITY, Mo. — He’s number 87 on the field, but this year, he’s number one in the eyes of NFL fans.
The NFL has announced that Chiefs tight end Travis Kelce has won Walter Payton Man of the Year Charity Challenge, a social media campaign designed to support and promote team nominees.
The main Walter Payton Man of the Year award, for which Kelce is the Chiefs’ finalist this year, is given every year to an outstanding community leader in pro football just before the Super Bowl. The winner of that award gets $250,000 donated to their charity of choice. All other 31 nominees receive up to $40,000.
“Each team nominates one player who has had a significant positive impact on his community,” the NFL stated about the award. “Congratulations to Travis Kelce who received the most votes in Nationwide’s 6th annual Charity Challenge.”
Kelce was drafted in 2013. Since then he has provided time and financial support to Operation Breakthrough, giving opportunities to disadvantaged youth.
“I think when you see somebody with kids you really see where their heart is and you can really see that genuine spirit and wanting to make sure that they have every opportunity to reach their full potential,” said Mary Esselman, Operation Breakthrough CEO.
His STEM lab initiative, called “Ignition Lab: Powered by 87&Running,” was announced in August 2020. His foundation also puts on Walk the Walk fashion show, which raises money for Operation Breakthrough.
“The vision is to give these teens in KC’s underserved neighborhoods a safe heaven. A place where they’re exposed to interests and role models far beyond the field or court,” Kelce said in a statement after re-signing with the Chiefs. “Where you live, the situation you were born into or the color of your skin should have no impact on the dreams you can dream.”
Kelce will receive $25,000 contributed to a charity of his choice.