Team president Michael Bidwill recently presented Larry Fitzgerald with the Cardinals’ Walter Payton Man of the Year award for his selfless acts of kindness.
As one example, Fitzgerald visited kids at Phoenix Children's Hospital on Thanksgiving, knowing that spending a holiday in the hospital could be a sad time for a child.
“Here’s a guy who is an amazing, high-profile athlete, who can be doing anything he wants that day,” Bidwill said. “And he spends the entire day in service of others after he gets done with his work. It’s just an amazing thing.”
Fitzgerald also earned the Cardinals' Walter Payton Man of the Year award in 2012 and was one of three finalists for the national award. Each year, all teams choose a recipient to be nominated. This year's national winner will be chosen the night before the Super Bowl.
“I remember Cris Carter coming to visit us over at the Boys & Girls Club off Chicago Avenue in South Minneapolis, and how our eyes lit up,” Fitzgerald said. “I remember when I was going to get one of my really routine check-ups, and Kevin Garnett was visiting the Children’s Hospital. I remember how excited I was to be able to see him.”
Fitzgerald is also a prominent advocate of breast cancer research, in honor of his late mother who had the disease. He owns his own nonprofit, the First Down Fund, to benefit children around the country. He supports many other philanthropic causes, as well.
“The Walter Payton Award is really the one award that, off the field, represents really what it should be about,” Fitzgerald said. “A lot of times in the media you hear about all the negativity. It’s great to always have a positive conversation when you’re being portrayed in the media, and to be a part of that, it means a great deal to me.”
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