Earlier today, the NFL revealed the 32 nominees for this year’s Walter Payton Man of the Year Award, with one player from each of the league’s franchises competing for the prestigious trophy. The clubs choose their respective nominees themselves, picking players that — according to a press release by the NFL’s communications department — best represent the league’s “commitment to philanthropy and community impact.”
The New England Patriots’ nominee this year does therefore not come as a surprise: linebacker Kyle Van Noy. Together with his wife, Marissa, the 28-year old started the Van Noy Valor Foundation in 2014 to help initiatives relating to adopted, foster and disadvantaged youth who are in need — a topic near and dear to their hearts as Van Noy himself was adopted as an infant, as were his wife’s father and brother.
“We are so proud of Kyle’s accomplishments on the field as a New England Patriot, but even more so of his character and his contributions in the community. His Van Noy Valor Foundation has helped countless children and families,” Patriots owner Robert Kraft said in a statement on Thursday. “He and Marissa are remembering their childhoods and how foster care and adoption positively impacted their lives. Kyle’s personal connection to the reason behind their foundation is inspiring.”
“It is a great honor to be nominated for the Walter Payton NFL Man of the Year Award,” added Van Noy. “Our foundation was put together so that we can share our stories and promote foster care and adoption and show how beautiful it is. It is meaningful because I have lived it, it is a part me and it is a part of my wife and her family. We understand the process, and we’ve seen the positive outcomes of the situation we are in. We like to share our message and hopefully it inspires other families.”
The 2019 Walter Payton NFL Man of the Year will be announced during the NFL Honors ceremony on the eve of Super Bowl 54, and receive a $250,000 donation to a charity of his choice. Furthermore, all 32 nominees — including not just Kyle Van Noy but also long-time Patriots offensive tackle Nate Solder — will also receive a donation of up to $50,000 in their name to a charity they picked.
On top of it all, fans can also vote on Twitter by using the hashtag #WPMOYChallenge followed by their favorite nominee’s last name. The player whose unique hashtag is used the most during the month between December 12 and January 12 will receive an additional $25,000 contribution to his charity of choice, while the second and third placed players will receive $10,000 and $5,000 donations.
If you want to support the Van Noy Valor Foundation, please click here.