The New York Knicks recognize individuals in the community each year through our Awards and Scholarships programs. Each month, the Knicks recognize a Sweetwater Clifton City Spirit Award winner that honors local heroes who have made a significant difference in the lives of others. The award is named in honor of the late Knicks great, Nat “Sweetwater” Clifton, who was the first African-American to play for the Knickerbockers. Winners will be recognized at center court of Madison Square Garden on a monthly basis throughout the Knicks season and receive a $2,000 donation to a charity of their choice.

This season, by nominating your local hero you will be entered to win a new Axon Smartphone from ZTE USA and two (2) tickets to an upcoming Knicks game. One winner will be selected at the end of each month (November – March). Submit your nomination today for a chance to win!

NOMINATE YOUR HERO

No purchase necessary. Sweepstakes ends at 11:59p.m. ET on 3/31/2016. Open to residents of New York, New Jersey & Connecticut, who are 18 or older, who reside within a 75-mile radius of MSG. Void where prohibited. Subject to change without notice. Prize may not be sold for cash and does not include travel to/from venue. See Official Rules for more details, including how to enter drawings and entry periods.

Sweetwater Clifton Recognition Dates:

· November 6th vs. Milwaukee Bucks
· December 4th vs. Brooklyn Nets
· January 31st vs. Golden State Warriors
· February 9th vs. Washington Wizards
· March 5th vs. Detroit Pistons
· April 6th vs. Charlotte Hornets

DECEMBER 2015: THE PEREZ FAMILY

The New York Knicks have announced The Perez Family, of Brooklyn, NY, as this month’s Sweetwater Clifton "City Spirit" Award recipients for volunteering their services to nonprofit organizations that benefit children facing life threatening obstacles. The award, presented by ZTE USA, is named in honor of Basketball Hall-of-Famer Nat "Sweetwater" Clifton, the first African-American to play for the Knicks, recognizes individuals who have made a significant difference in the lives of others. Each month a winner is chosen by members of the Knicks front office staff and honored at center court during a Knicks game with a $2,000 donation in his or her name made out to a charity of their choice.

In September 2014 The Perez Family lost their 13-year-old son and brother, Nicolas after he fought a three-year battle with brain cancer. The Perez Family wanted to give back to the same organizations that helped make Nicolas’ life memorable by assisting families who are experiencing the similar pain and struggles of having a child with serious illnesses and disabilities. The family volunteers with “The Starlight Children's Foundation,” “The Children's Brain Tumor Foundation” and “The Garden of Dreams Foundation.” In April 2015, the family created “The Nicolas Perez Memorial Scholarship” to promote Pediatric Cancer Awareness and award graduating eighth-grade students from Nicolas’ middle school, MS 442 Carroll Gardens School for Innovation, with scholarships to help them prepare for high school.

NOVEMBER 2015: BRIAN BEUTEL AND BEUTEL FAMILY

The New York Knickerbockers honored the late Brian Beutel, of Bergen County, NJ, as November’s Sweetwater Clifton "City Spirit" Award presented by ZTE USA winner for his generosity and kindness gestures for the Bergen County community.

Beutel, father of five daughters, collapsed during the “Battle of the Blue” basketball game for the “Tomorrow’s Children’s Fund,” a nonprofit organization that assists children who are battling cancer. Beutel not only lectured his daughters on the importance of giving back, but he led by example. He served as volunteer coordinator for the adult basketball league in his hometown of Westwood for the past decade and he often sat outside of shopping centers raising money for local charities. The award money will go to “Tomorrow’s Children’s Fund.”

On behalf of Beutel, his wife Tamiko and five daughter, Vanessa, Olivia, Camilla, Sophia and Tatianna accepted the award on November 6th vs. Milwaukee Bucks. They were presented the medal and personalized jersey by Knicks Alum, Vin Baker as well as a ZTE SPRO 2 Smart Projector by Vice President of Strategic Marketing for Mobile Devices at ZTE USA, Andrew Elliott.

MARCH 2015: ANTONIO APONTE

The New York Knickerbockers have honored Boys Club of New York Educational Services Director and Latino College Expo Co-Founder, Antonio Aponte of New York, as the Sweetwater Clifton "City Spirit" Award winner for the month of March. The Latino College Expo elevates the educational aspirations of the Latino community by offering an array of specialized services tailored to their needs.

In 1990, Antonio co-founded the Latino College Expo Inc., to help equip students with the tools and information needed to gain college access and achieve educational goals. The expo consists of leadership seminars that discuss a variety of college planning steps, including the application process, standardize testing, financial aid, scholarships and college sports. To date, The Latino College Expo Disbursed Over $100,000 in Grants to High School Seniors in the NY Area. Antonio has chosen to donate his $2,000 donation to the Latino College Expo Inc.

Antonio was honored on at center court of Madison Square Garden by Knicks Legend John Starks when the Knicks hosted the Minnesota Timberwolves on March 19th, 2015.

FEBRUARY 2015: NADIA LOPEZ

Mott Hall Bridges Academy principal, Nadia López of Brooklyn, NY was February's recipient of the Sweetwater Clifton "City Spirit" Award winner. Nadia’s dedication to her students’ education encouraged an online fundraising campaign to raise money for an informative school trip to Harvard University that raised over $1 million, reaching the fundraising goal of $100,000 in just 45 minutes. The additional funds will go toward future academic trips and programs for Mott Hall Bridges students. She has chosen that the $2,00 donation will go to The Kids League of New York City.

Nadia received high recognition from community organizations and local leaders for the major role she plays in many students’ lives. In a town where the graduation retention rate is historically low, Nadia’s contribution helped Mott Hall Bridges Academy attain a 98-percent graduation rate.

Nadia was recognized on court at Madison Square Garden at the Knicks vs Miami Heat game.

JANUARY 2015: BARBARA STRONG

Barbara Strong, of Rock Hill, NY was January’s Sweetwater Clifton "City Spirit" Award recipient for establishing the Allyson Whitney Foundation - a non-profit organization that empowers and fights for the interests of young adults with rare cancers. After losing her 25-year-old daughter Allyson to a long battle of small cell cervical cancer, Barbara wanted to turn her daughter’s dream of helping others into a reality. With the support of family and friends, Barbara was able to start the foundation and raise money for the cause through events and donations. The Allyson Whitney 5k Walk/Run is the organization’s biggest success, raising over $70,000 that included over 800 participants.

Barbara accepted the award presented by Knicks Legend John Starks at center court of Madison Square Garden at the Knicks vs. Charlotte Hornets match up. The award money will go to the Allyson Whitney Foundation to improve the quality of life and provide emotional support for young patients.

DECEMBER 2014: BRUCE BOYLE

Bruce Boyle Received the 2014 Surfers’ Environmental Alliance “Friend of the Paddle” Award
Bruce Boyle, of Sea Girt, NJ was December’s Sweetwater Clifton "City Spirit" Award recipient for his dedication with keeping the New York waters safe and his contributions to numerous environmental charitable events. Bruce is the developer and owner of Liberty Landing Marina in Jersey City, which was transformed to an emergency rescue command center during the September 11th attacks. Since then, Bruce has been dedicated to overseeing the bodies of waters that surround the New York area and serves as a consultant for the marine industry throughout the northeast. On December 16th, Bruce accepted the Sweetwater Clifton City Spirit Award presented by Knicks Legend John Starks at center court of Madison Square Garden. The award money will go to the Surfers’ Environmental Alliance (SEA), which contributes to environmental preservation and numerous autism non-profits.

NOVEMBER 2014: COACH KEITH CAPUTO

Keith Caputo, of Center Moriches, NY was honored as November’s Sweetwater Clifton "City Spirit" Award recipient for his fundraising efforts and warm support for people throughout his Long Island community. After the passing of his mentor and community hero, Anthony Parlato, Keith decided to follow Anthony’s mission of helping someone each day. With the support of his family and friends, Keith started the “Helping Makes U Happy” charity to make a difference for members of local communities through fundraising, donations, and scholarship opportunities. Keith Caputo accepted the Sweetwater Clifton City Spirit Award presented by Knicks Legend John Starks at center court of Madison Square Garden. The award money will go to the “Helping Makes U Happy" charity to help support Keith’s mission.

OCTOBER 2014: FELIPE LOPEZ

Felipe Lopez of Santiago, Dominican Republic, was the recipient of the Sweetwater Clifton "City Spirit" Award for the month of October for his continuous work helping to bring basketball efforts to the five boroughs. Lopez’ greatest accomplishments are off the basketball court. After one of the most highly-celebrated high school basketball careers in New York City history at Rice in the Bronx, four years at his hometown St. John’s University and a four-year NBA career, Lopez devoted his life to philanthropy. He has always felt a great responsibility to care for his communities - both with his Hispanic lineages and the New York boroughs. The self-founded Felipe Lopez Foundation is committed to establishing an environment for positive learning and healthy living, that includes providing youth with educational scholarships. He conducts clinics in local Hispanic communities and his weekends are spent at the Bronx Spanish Evangelical Church, teaching the neighborhood boys lessons to be used both on and off the court. Lopez’ immense generosity earned him the title “NBA Ambassador” with the NBA Cares program.
Felipe Lopez accepted the Sweetwater Clifton City Spirit Award, presented by Knicks Great Larry Johnson, on center court at Madison Square Garden vs. the Toronto Raptors on December 13th. Lopez’ award will be donated to Skyhoops Basketball and the Felipe Lopez USA Foundation.