A former No. 1 NFL draft pick and education major out of WSU, Drew Bledsoe will join 1936 Olympic runner Louis Zamperini, and three-time equestrian Olympian Kathy Kusner in the Humanitarian Hall of Fame's class of 2005.
Bledsoe was recognized for his active participation in community relations programs and for his own organization, Parenting With Dignity, which assists parents in raising responsible children.
The Humanitarian Hall of Fame annually inducts individuals who are world-class in athletic ability, role models in their community and have a strong record of humanitarian efforts. Since President Gerald R. Ford served as its first honorary chairman in 1994 the Hall has enshrined over 30 humanitarian athletes including tennis great Arthur Ashe, major league baseball pioneer Jackie Robinson, NFL coaching legend Tom Landry, the NBA's David Robinson, and soccer great Pelé.
A 12-year NFL quarterback and current starter for the Dallas Cowboys, Bledsoe's name remains prominently featured throughout the WSU record book despite entering the draft after his junior year at Washington State. He still holds the top mark in several categories, including most passing yards in a game, when his 476 yards through the air paced the Cougars to a 1992 Copper Bowl Victory over Utah.
While Bledsoe is known at WSU for his contributions as a player, including his final home game at Martin Stadium in 1992 -- the thrilling 42-23 Apple Cup victory over Washington in blizzard-like conditions -- he has quietly gone about making a difference off the field, including the establishment of the Albert "Stu" Bledsoe Endowed Football Scholarship at Washington State - a $150,000 endowment in the name of his grandfather.
He's appeared in 172 NFL games over his career, starting 171 of them, and completed 3,449 of 6,049 passes for 39,808 yards, with 221 TD passes. Bledsoe eight times has topped the 3,000 yard mark and twice thrown for more than 4,000 yards in the NFL.
Throughout his NFL career, the Walla Walla, Wash. native has taken an active role in helping parents and children in the communities where he has played – most notably through the Drew Bledsoe Foundation (www.drewbledsoe.com) and the Parenting with Dignity curriculum (www.parentingwithdignity.com) developed by his parents Mac and Barbara.
With Bledsoe as the catalyst, the Parenting with Dignity curriculum is used in schools, prisons, alternative schools, and community and youth organizations around the country. The curriculum, which has reached an estimated 1.75 million American families, teaches parents how to teach their own family values to their children and how to teach their children to make decisions based on these values. Its message is focused on helping parents and caregivers rethink their approach to discipline, punishment and empowerment.
At a recent talk with inmates graduating from the Parenting with Dignity program at Idaho's Orofino Maximum Security Prison -- where every prisoner has an opportunity to participate in the program, the father of four shared the stories of the intimidating experiences he has faced in his NFL career. "By far, the most intimidating situation I have ever faced is the 20-minute ride home from the hospital with my first son," said the 33-year-old Bledsoe. "I believe positive change in America's youth will occur only when parents learn to effectively teach their own values and solid decisions making skills to their own children. That's when permanent change can occur."
Bledsoe has also served as International Chairman of the Children's Miracle Network, helping to raise millions of dollars annually to benefit hospitalized children in 170 children's hospitals nationwide. He is a recipient of the Thurman Munson Humanitarian Award, the NFL Alumni Spirit Award for exemplifying the spirit of the NFL caring for kids and in 2004 received the Walter Payton Man of the Year Award, chosen by his teammates for demonstrating balance between civic and professional responsibilities. Bledsoe has also been recognized with the Ed Block Courage award, chosen by his teammates as the NFL player demonstrating the most courage and character.
As a part of its induction ceremonies, the Humanitarian Hall of Fame recognizes others from all corners of the sporting world through its annual humanitarian awards program.
Ceremonies get underway at 6pm, June 8 at Boise's Centre on the Grove. Tickets are $50 for adults ($16.50 for youth under 12) and available by contacting the Hall at 208-343-7224.
The World Sports Humanitarian Hall of Fame, www.sportshumanitarian.com, located on the Boise State University campus in Boise, Idaho, recognizes individuals and organizations from the world of amateur and professional athletics who, through their humanitarian efforts, distinguish themselves as role models in the community.
Since 1994 over thirty role models with world-class athletic ability and exceptional humanitarian achievements have been inducted to the World Sports Humanitarian Hall of Fame.
Bledsoe named Humanitarian Hall of Fame inductee
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