Colts Defensive Captain Receives Community Award
In recognition of his commitment to raising money and awareness towards fighting cancer, Colts defensive captain Gary Brackett was presented with the Chairman's Citation Award on Monday from the Indiana Chapter of The Leukemia & Lymphoma Society (LLS).
A day after the Colts' 31-10 victory over the Arizona Cardinals, Brackett accepted the award at a press conference held at the Indiana Farm Bureau Football Center.
"I'm thankful to the LLS society, which is a great organization, for giving me this award," Brackett said. "I think of myself of being more than a football player. The victories are great, but to really have lasting impressions on your community and see some of these kids and make an impact on their lives, those are lifetime achievements."
Brackett first began working with LLS six years ago, when his older brother, Greg, was diagnosed with leukemia. After finding out he was a match, Brackett donated bone marrow to his brother, who subsequently lost his battle with leukemia in 2005, while his cancer was in remission.
"After going through that, I told myself if I had a chance to give something back in this area, I would," he said.
Since then, Brackett has been a "truly dedicated supporter of LLS," according to Indiana Chapter Executive Director Amy Kwas.
He became involved in LLS's Pennies for Patients program, a school-based fundraiser in which children collect spare change to support blood cancer research and patient services.
Brackett even made a personal visit to the top fundraising school, which collected more than $120,000.
"Ten years from now, I'm not naïve enough to think I'll be remembered for football," he said. "But some of my accomplishments off the field mean the most to me and I'll remember them."
Brackett, who received the Arthur S. Arkush Humanitarian Award from Pro Football Weekly last month, is the latest professional athlete to receive the Chairman's Citation Award. Other recipients include Dan Marino, Rod Woodson, Lawrence Taylor and baseball greats Gary Carter and Frank Thomas.
Brackett said the Colts' culture of giving back to the community starts from the top down with Owner and CEO Jim Irsay, President Bill Polian and Head Coach Jim Caldwell. From there, there is a trickle-down effect to the players, who also keep the community atop their priority list.
Brackett singled out quarterback Peyton Manning, center Jeff Saturday, long snapper Justin Snow and defensive backs Marlin Jackson and Bob Sanders amidst a long list of teammates who are active with different charities.
"The message goes a long way," Brackett said. "We support each other off the field. And when it is Sunday and we are facing 4th-and-inches on our goal line, we pull for each other then, too."
The LLS is the world's largest voluntary health agency dedicated to blood cancer and sets out to improve the quality of life for blood cancer patients and their families. Headquartered in White Plains, NY, the LLS has chapters throughout the United States and Canada. To learn more, log on to www.LLS.org or contact the Information Resource Center at (800) 955-4572.