Including Anthony Thomas and James Williams, 41 different Bears have won the Brian Piccolo Award, which began in 1970. The honor has been given to a Bears rookie since 1970 and was expanded in 1992 to include a veteran winner. Bears players vote for the rookie and veteran who best exemplify the courage, loyalty, teamwork, dedication and sense of humor of the late Brian Piccolo.
Brian Piccolo was born in Pittsfield, Massachusetts on October 21, 1943. He grew up in Ft. Lauderdale, Florida, where his football prouis led to a scholarship at Wake Forest University.
Piccolo joined the Bears in 1965, following a senior season at Wake Forest during which he led the nation in scoring (111 points) and rushing (1,044 yards). Piccolo was not selected in the NFL draft, but he signed with the Bears as a free agent and made the club. He was in his fourth season when a chest x-ray revealed a malignancy. Several months later on June 16, 1970, he died at age 26 from embryonal cell carcinoma. He left behind his wife Joy, daughters Lori, Traci and Kristi.
Following his death in 1970, Piccolo's friends in Chicago established the Brian Piccolo Cancer Research Fund. At the time Piccolo died, the disease was 100% fatal, but today the cure rate is 95%.
Proceeds from the Brian Piccolo Cancer Research Fund benefit breast cancer research at Rush Presbyterian-St. Luke's Hospital and the Clearbrook Center for the developmentally disabled in Rolling Meadows.
To Make Contributions or for more information, contact Joyce Walsh at Rush-Presbyterian-St. Luke's Medical Center at (312) 942-6894 or visit www.brianpiccolo.org