Madieu Williams was selected as the Vikings 2010 Community Man of the Year in recognition of his charitable efforts. The veteran safety’s humanitarian work was honored on a bigger stage Sunday.
Williams was named the 2010 Walter Payton NFL Man of the Year for his charitable endeavors locally, nationally and globally.
The award, which was announced during Super Bowl festivities, recognizes a player’s off-the-field community service in addition to his contributions on the field. Williams is the second Vikings player to win the award since its inception in 1970, joining former wide receiver Cris Carter, the 1999 recipient.
Williams, who receives $20,000 to donate to his charity of choice, is currently in the Persian Gulf visiting U.S. service members.
“It is a tremendous honor to win this award named after Walter Payton, one of the greatest men to ever play in the National Football League,” Williams said in a statement. “I’m sorry I couldn’t be there to accept the award, but it’s an even greater honor to be here in Iraq with Task Force Iron Horse on a goodwill tour watching the Super Bowl with our troops.”
Born in Sierra Leone, Williams donated $2 million dollars to create the Madieu Williams Center for Global Health at the University of Maryland, his alma mater. The center will focus on public health issues in Prince George’s County and Sierra Leone.
Williams funded the construction of one school in Sierra Leone and is helping build a second school. Williams’ foundation sponsored a mission to Sierra Leone in which American teachers, dentists and surgeons provided information to school officials as well as offer free surgeries and dental cleanings to the children.
Williams also has been extremely active in the Twin Cities community. He is involved with the North Community YMCA, the United Way and Harvest Prep/Seed Academy.
“It is a tremendous honor that Madieu has been named the Walter Payton NFL Man of the Year,” Vikings coach Leslie Frazier said. “It is quite an accomplishment and one that is well deserved. Madieu is a person that cares about people. He is not your prototypical pro athlete by any means. The fact that he is still taking trips and helping others that are less fortunate says a lot about Madieu. He has no other motivation other than to see someone else’s life become better that what it currently is. He is a rare person.”
Williams also hosts a free football camp in Maryland and has continued his community involvement in Cincinnati, the city where he played his first four NFL seasons.
The other two finalists for the award were Oakland’s Nnamdi Asomugha and Chicago’s Israel Idonije. The finalists were chosen by a panel from the 32 team nominees.
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