‘Tis the season of giving, and for every professional athlete who gives 110 percent on the field, there are also a select few who devote time and energy to charitable endeavors off the field. Accomplishments such as these rarely come with the glory and fanfare of a game-winning touchdown or walk-off home run, but that’s just as well; after all, ask most any philanthropic athlete and they’ll tell you it’s the people they help and inspire that makes their efforts worthwhile.
Here are three popular figures in New York sports whose stars have shone equally bright when it comes to making a difference in their communities.
Frequently praised as the epitome of class on the field and in the locker room, the two-time Super Bowl MVP has also garnered a reputation as one of the most charitable players in the NFL. Between tireless bouts of preparation and a streak of 210 consecutive starts at quarterback, Manning has found time to contribute to the American Red Cross, the Make A Wish Foundation, Kids Tackle Cancer and Guiding Eyes for the Blind, among others. With brother Peyton, he helped deliver more than 30,000 pounds of food, water and pillows to the victims of Hurricane Katrina and, with wife Abby, founded the Eli and Abby Manning Children’s Clinics in 2007. The Giants legend was named co-recipient of the 2017 Walter Payton Man of the Year award for his efforts.
The Rangers net minder has been a fan favorite for his 12-plus years with the team, and he’s done plenty to reciprocate that love to those who need it most. He’s been active in the Garden of Dreams Foundation, which does work to brighten up the lives of kids who are facing poverty, illnesses and other challenges.
In addition, Lundqvist’s own Henrik Lundqvist foundation has done much to improve the quality of education and healthcare received by children and adults around the world. The characteristically humble goalie was named a finalist for the 2014-15 NHL Foundation Player Award.
Right, no surprise here. But the fact is, for all that Jeter accomplished as a player, no account of his legacy is complete without speaking highly of his character. The future Hall of Famer’s Turn 2 Foundation was founded during Jeter’s rookie season in 1996, and according to the charity’s official website, has donated more than $23 million during that time to keep kids off the streets and on the right path. With an eye towards encouraging academic excellence and leadership skills, the foundation has amassed a legacy of positive youth development that has carried on well beyond Jeter’s final days in pinstripes.