This excerpt about Peyton Manning is from my children’s book, Celebrities Giving Back (Mitchell Lane 2010)
Whenever someone enters the children’s section of St. Vincent Hospital in Indianapolis, they think of Peyton Manning, former quarterback for the city’s football team, the Colts. They don’t think of him for his ability to throw a football or because he was Super Bowl XLI MVP. The people of St. Vincent know the name because on September 6, 2007, the children’s hospital was renamed in appreciation of Manning’s devotion to the children of Indianapolis and other cities across the nation. It was renamed Peyton Manning Children’s Hospital at St. Vincent.
Manning has used his time, talents and funds to help children for years. In 1999, Manning established the Peyback Foundation to help disadvantaged children in Louisiana, Tennessee, and Indiana. The foundation provides assistance to organizations such as Boys and Girls Clubs; area food banks; and summer, after-school, and youth athletic programs. By 2010, it had donated more than $3.6 million to those organizations.
In addition to financial assistance, each Christmas season, Manning takes over the Children’s Museum of Indianapolis for the PeyBack Holiday Celebration. More than 1,000 children from 100 community agencies attend. The special event includes dinner, a visit from Santa, special Christmas gifts from Peyton, and the opportunity to visit the nationally renowned museum. The foundation also hosts Christmas parties in New Orleans and Knoxville, Tennessee. (His father, Archie Manning, was a quarterback for the New Orleans Saints.)
An opportunity to play in the arena for the New Orleans Saints when he was a high school football player was an experience Peyton Manning never forgot. He created the same experience for Indianapolis area athletes with the PeyBack Classic, launched in 2000.
“I wanted Indianapolis high school teams to feel that same sense of pride I had when I ran onto that field with my teammates,” he said. “I also wanted a chance to pay back local high school athletic programs for providing such wonderful opportunities to these kids.”
Peyton’s Pals, another program of the Peyback Foundation, sponsors a series of monthly educational, cultural, and community service events for 20 middle school kids. Students learn about living a healthy lifestyle and how to deal with peer, family, and school pressures.
Peyton Manning’s generous spirit has touched more than students in Indianapolis. In 2005, he and his brother Eli, a player for the New York Giants, organized a plane full of relief supplies to be delivered to Katrina victims in Baton Rouge, Louisiana. That year, Peyton Manning was named the Walter Payton NFL Man of the Year for his off-the-field community service.
Why has Peyton Manning given so much time and money to helping kids? “I had great parents, a great support system and a blessed childhood,” he said. “What can I do to help kids have some of those same opportunities? Provide them with some of the same types of support and give them opportunities to have memorable moments in their lives.”
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