Baltimore Ravens WR Anquan Boldin has been named the team's Walter Payton Man of the Year honoree. The award is given annually by the National Football League to honor a player's volunteer and charitable work, as well as his excellence on the field. A local nominee is named from each of the 32 NFL teams, and a panel of judges, including NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell and Connie Payton, widow of the late Walter Payton, will choose the eventual national winner.
In the midst of his 10th NFL season, Boldin has earned numerous football accolades, including three Pro Bowl appearances and NFL Offensive Rookie of the Year (2003). As a Raven, Boldin became the fastest player in NFL history to record 600 career receptions, and this year set another milestone – 10,000 career receiving yards. He finished 2012 leading the team in receptions (65) and receiving yards (921), helping the Ravens capture their fifth-consecutive playoff appearance.
Though Boldin has found success as a professional athlete, he has never taken it for granted. The Ravens' wide receiver was raised in the impoverished area of Pahokee, Fla., where he had basic necessities, but not much more. Now a husband and father of two, Boldin leads by example through his inspiring philanthropic work all over the world.
Established in 2004, the Anquan Boldin Foundation (Q81 Foundation) is dedicated to expanding the educational and life opportunities of underprivileged children. As evidenced by charitable activities in Florida, Arizona and Baltimore, the foundation has an eight-year history of offering after-school programs, full-time college scholarships (with the support of the University of Phoenix), and dental care and food programs for disadvantaged youth. Annual fundraising events include Q-Fest, now in its eighth year, which features a golf classic, celebrity basketball game and "Fun Day in the Park."
For the second-consecutive year, the Q81 Foundation and Florida Crystals Corporation partnered in 2012 to host the Q81 Summer Enrichment Program. The eight-week course, designed for high school students in need of academic assistance, garnered significant results, as 30 students at Everglades Preparatory Academy (EPA) in Pahokee increased their grade point averages. In addition, four student-athletes improved their GPAs enough to become eligible to participate in sports during the fall semester.
In April 2012, Boldin and former Cardinals' teammate Larry Fitzgerald embarked on a mission trip to Ethiopia, bringing attention to the ongoing drought and famine in East Africa. The players partnered with hunger-relief organization Oxfam to build retaining walls that protect against erosion in the area.
Boldin is known in the Baltimore community for hosting holiday shopping sprees for youth and food distributions for hundreds of families who would not be able to celebrate the Thanksgiving holiday otherwise. He has also supported the military by assembling care packages for troops overseas, with help from the Wounded Warrior Project.
In addition, the NFL standout has been named honorary chair of the United Way of Central Maryland's Emerging Leaders United, a collection of leaders 40-and-under who are actively seeking ways to give, advocate and volunteer. As an ambassador, Boldin encourages young professionals to use philanthropy and volunteerism to help their communities.
As the local Walter Payton Man of the Year honoree, he will receive $1,000 towards the Anquan Boldin Foundation. The top three finalists, with the announcement to be made this month, will receive an additional $5,000, and the eventual national winner will receive $25,000 towards his respective charity.
For more information about the Anquan Boldin Foundation, please visit www.q81.org.