In honor of its efforts to improve the lives and health and wellness of American Indian youth across the country through sport, the Notah Begay III (NB3) Foundation has been recognized as a winner of the Steve Patterson Award for Excellence in Sports Philanthropy.
The award’s namesake, Steve Patterson, firmly believed in using sports to make a difference, especially among the most vulnerable members of society, according to a Patterson tribute. He is widely known for taking the University of California-Los Angeles to three national basketball championships, playing in the Nation Basketball Association—five years for the Cleveland Cavaliers and his final year for the Chicago Bulls—and coaching at Arizona State University. Patterson worked with the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation (RWJF)— the country’s largest philanthropy devoted exclusively to health and health care—and the Sports Philanthropy Project (SPP), which aims to advance health and other initiatives by harnessing the power of sport.
The RWJF and SPP established the Steve Patterson award in 2004, when Patterson died of cancer at age 56. The award honors sports organizations and individual sports philanthropies for advancing important social causes by leveraging the transformative character-building and health benefits of sport. The RWJF presents the award annually.
The NB3 Foundation received one of the three 2012 awards. The Foundation was founded in 2005 by Notah Begay, a Navajo/San Felipe/Isleta golf professional and four-time PGA Tour winner.
The Foundation offers sports, nutrition, health and community development programs that incorporate local cultures and traditions, and it empowers tribal leaders to take action to improve the health and wellbeing of their communities. The NB3 Foundation’s reach has grown exponentially in the last few years, touching more than 10,000 American Indian children in 11 states through grant and health and wellness programs. The organization also calls national attention to the health needs of Native American children, who receive less than 1 percent of philanthropy foundation funding.
“I’m thankful that I can use my public platform to raise more awareness of Native American health issues and the need to address them,” said Begay in a press release. “Sports can play a transformative role in the life of a young person, and we’re pleased that this award will help highlight our mission to fight childhood obesity and type 2 diabetes.”
The Foundation primarily promotes activity through golf and soccer. A two-year study by the Johns Hopkins Center for American Indian Health to evaluate the impact of holistic interventions at the San Felipe Pueblo to reduce the rates of childhood obesity and type 2 diabetes through soccer found that the program significantly impacts the physical fitness of Native American children. Begay has also built partnerships with the Oneida Indian Nation and San Manuel Band of Serrano Mission Indians to sponsor the NB3 Foundation Challenge, the largest one-day fundraiser benefiting American Indian youth in the country. In August, the fifth annual Challenge returned to Turning Stone Resort’s Atunyote Golf Club in Verona, New York.
Read Indian Country Today Media Network’s recent interview with Begay and his best friend and college roommate Tiger Woods.
Other nonprofits recognized with a 2012 Steve Patterson award are the Chicago White Sox and Women’s Sports Foundation (WSF). The Chicago White Sox established the first of its kind White Sox Volunteer Corps, which brings together thousands of fans, players, coaches, and club executives to assist underserved Chicago neighborhoods through volunteer work. The WSF, founded in 1974 by Billie Jean King, advances the lives of women and girls through sports and physical activity. From aspiring Olympic athletes to sedentary girls in underserved communities, WSF programs help girls and women of all abilities reach their potential.
“We are proud to present the Patterson Award to these three inspiring and visionary sports philanthropies,” said Risa Lavizzo-Mourey, RWJF president and CEO. “Through their dedication to increase community service, reduce childhood obesity, and bolster female physical activity and empowerment, each is making a measurable impact on the health and well-being of people in need, especially the most vulnerable.”
“Today’s winners reveal just how much Steve’s lifelong legacy to improve lives through sports has taken hold,” said Carlette Patterson, Patterson’s widow and president of Patterson Sports Ventures. “It’s clear that the field of sports philanthropy is growing and thriving and I hope more sports organizations will use their incredible leverage to make a positive difference in their communities and nationwide.”
Previous winners of the Patterson Award have included:
Philadelphia Eagles Youth Partnership (2005)
Jacksonville Jaguars Foundation (2006)
Memphis Grizzlies Charitable Foundation (2007)
The Moyer Foundation (2007)
San Francisco Giants Community Fund (2008)
Steve Nash Foundation (2008)
Marvin Lewis Community Fund (2009)
Red Sox Foundation (2009)
Dikembe Mutombo Foundation (2010)
U.S. Soccer Foundation (2010)
Cincinnati Reds Community Fund (2011)
Brian Griese and Judi’s House (2011)