Orlando City SC is honored to be the recipient of the 2017 Stuart Scott ENSPIRE Award and take part in the third annual Sports Humanitarian of the Year Awards sponsored by ESPN and Bristol-Myers Squibb.
The award recognizes Orlando City for proactively standing up for inclusion, diversity and respect for others. The organization’s community-first reputation reached a peak when the Club provided a platform for healing and growth following the Pulse Nightclub tragedy one year ago this week.
Named after the beloved ESPN commentator who passed away in 2015, the Stuart Scott ENSPIRE Award honors people, teams and organizations in the world of sports that have taken risks and used an innovative approach to help those in need through the power of sports. The honoree receives a $100,000 grant to donate to a qualified charity related to the humanitarian efforts. To continue supporting the victims and families of the Pulse events, the Club has chosen to split the reward between the Better Together Fund, Contigo Fund and OnePulse Foundation.
“We are grateful and honored to be nominated and chosen for this award,” said Orlando’s VP of Community Relations Kay Rawlins, who will accept the award on the Club’s behalf. “This is one of the most important awards we could receive because it’s about the positive impact we could have in the community as an organization.”
According to the organizing committee, Orlando City and its supporters crafted a bold, inspired and innovative response for a professional sporting event following the tragic attack, as the Lions hosted the San Jose Earthquakes six days later on June 18.
The Club, then in its second year in Major League Soccer, took a stand to define its character and commitment to respect and inclusion. Every aspect of the match was a dedication to those whose lives were lost—from the inspirational music played during pregame, down to the rainbow-colored corner flags on the field. The families of the victims along with first responders were recognized before the game. All players wore #OrlandoUnited patches on their jersey, black armbands and rainbow wristbands. The teams walked out to The Beatles’ “All You Need is Love” instead of the traditional FIFA anthem. In the 49th minute of play, the game was intentionally stopped for the first time in MLS history for a moment of silence. A section of seats was left empty at midfield, each filled only with a single colorful balloon, later to be memorialized with 49 dedicated rainbow-colored seats in Section 12 of the Club’s new stadium. Additionally, Orlando City SC raised $500,000 for the OneOrlando Fund in 2016 and continue to support those fundraising efforts.
The Third Annual Sports Humanitarian of the Year Award sponsored by ESPN and Bristol-Myers Squibb will honor its award winners on Tuesday, July 11 at L.A. LIVE’s The Novo. Highlights of the evening will be showcased during a one-hour program on ESPN on July 25, at 7 p.m. ET.
The net proceeds of the event will benefit the Stuart Scott Memorial Cancer Research Fund at the V Foundation. In addition, ESPN will grant another $1 million to the charities of the nominees and winners. Combined, more than $1.7 million will be distributed to the Orlando community as a result of the Club’s initiative in 2016.