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June 15, 2010
Recognizing their selfless, generous and tireless commitment toward improving the world around them, Tyrus Thomas is one of two professional sports figures that have been awarded Jefferson Awards, one of the nation’s top honors for community service and volunteerism. Past recipients of the 38-year-old award include General Colin Powell, television personality Oprah Winfrey and former Supreme Court Justice Sandra Day O’Connor.
In November, Thomas made the "Dream Team" along with Dwight Howard, Olympian and gold medalist Lauryn Williams, Venus Williams, Ryan Zimmerman and four other notable professional athletes. Through an ongoing voting and committee selection process, Thomas was chosen overall as a recipient of the 2010 Jefferson Award for Outstanding Public Service among professional athletes as a new comer for his work with youth.
Thomas will receive the prestigious national Nobel Prize for public service, the Jefferson Award as the Outstanding Athlete as a Newcomer in Service and Philanthropy, in Washington, D.C. on June 21 at the 38th annual Jefferson Awards gala. Drafted out of Louisiana State University by the Chicago Bulls, Thomas was named to the 2007 NBA All-Rookie Team. This past season, he was traded to the Charlotte Bobcats.
Tyrus Thomas, Incorporated (TTI), a non-profit organization was founded by Baton Rouge native, Tyrus Thomas, in 2009. Growing up in South Baton Rouge, Tyrus was keenly aware of the lack of financial and educational resources, as well as adequate role models, in his community. When he was blessed to play in the NBA, he decided to give back so that, "kids from his community would have the chance to live up to their full potential despite circumstances weighing them down."
The mission of TTI is to cultivate and improve the Greater Baton Rouge area by implementing programs geared toward youth outreach, enhancing community development, and providing support to other organizations with similar initiatives and goals. TTI achieves its mission by focusing on the three main objectives referenced above; youth outreach, community development, and organizational support.
In order to realize the first and foremost objective, TTI established C.A.T.C.H. (Caring and Actively Teaching Children Hope), a youth outreach and retention program targeting at-risk students. The program concentrates on five key initiatives; character and leadership empowerment, educational and technological development, financial and economic literacy, arts and culture, and a healthy mind and body. The first season of C.A.T.C.H. kicked off in June 2009 with 19 students in Baton Rouge.
TTI’s second objective is to make a significant and lasting impression in the communities it serves. This is accomplished through a number of community building initiatives. Last November, TTI collaborated with Citadel Broadcasting to host a free Thanksgiving meal for indigent residents of Baton Rouge. Over the Christmas holiday, TTI partnered with the CARA Program to “adopt” a low-income family in Chicago and present them with gifts, food, and a complete apartment renovation. In addition, TTI periodically sponsors, among other things, school supply drives and school uniform giveaways. Although Thomas no longer plays professional basketball in Chicago he still spends time and provides college scholarships to the students at his “adopted” school Crane Prep Tech High School, a public school in the Chicago public school system.
TTI’s third objective is to provide funding to organizations with similar goals and initiatives. In 2009, TTI provided monetary and in-kind donations to several non-profit organizations. Some of these included; YWCA Greater Baton Rouge for the Lights on Afterschool Programs, South Baton Rouge Christmas Parade, Chicago 2016 – a bid for the 2016 Olympic and Paralympic Games, The National Down Syndrome Society Charity Event, Mothers of Professional Basketball Players (MPBP), and the Fitzgerald Batiste Benefit Event.
In April 2009, Tyrus was named CDW/Blackberry Bulls Community Player of the Year based on his significant number of community appearances. Prior to that, Tyrus was the recipient of the Charles Lubin Memorial Award. In August of 2009, Tyrus was presented with a proclamation from the city of Baton Rouge declaring August 2, 2009 as Tyrus Thomas Day. He was also given a certificate from the office of the Metropolitan Council making him an Honorary Council Member of the city of Baton Rouge of East Baton Rouge Parish. TTI, with the support of Tyrus, is currently assessing community development and youth outreach opportunities in his new home in North Carolina where he now plays for the Bobcats.
About The Jefferson Awards
Co-founded in 1973 by Jacqueline Kennedy Onassis, U.S. Senator Robert Taft Jr. and Sam Beard, The Jefferson Awards annually celebrate America’s commitment to public service. Recognizing both the famous and the unknown, individuals and organizations, the young and old, the awards reflect one of the founding ideals of our nation, that of contributing toward the larger good. As Thomas Jefferson himself wrote, “Private charities as well as contributions to public purposes in proportion to everyone's circumstances are certainly among the duties we owe to society."
The Jefferson Award recipients are nominated from throughout the country and selected by the organization’s board of directors. This year’s national recipients include Michael R. Bloomberg, mayor of New York City; Cory A. Booker, mayor of Newark, N.J.; Jim Gibbons, president and CEO of Goodwill Industries International; Paul Farmer, M.D., founder and leader of Partners in Health; Nnamdi Asomugha defensive back for the Oakland Raider; and Tad Skylar Agoglia, founder of The First Response Team of America. Honorees are chosen on the basis of two main criteria: the outstanding nature of the acts of service and the impact on the community of those acts.
For more information on The Jefferson Awards, visit www.JeffersonAwards.org. For more information on Tyrus Thomas and his philanthropic efforts please visit www.tyrusthomasinc.org
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