Donald Driver (photo courtesy of Lammi Sports Management)
held back tears but still smiled widely as he spoke the words.
something in their life for a reason,” the former Green Bay Packers receiver
told a crowd gathered today at the Pfister Hotel. “I grew up homeless. You don’t forget
where you came from.”
With that in mind,
Driver has created the Driven to Achieve Awards, an initiative to recognize the accomplishments of charities, companies, community leaders and celebrities.
Athletes are always in the spotlight on or off the field, says the now-retired Driver, and he hopes to share the spotlight with people making a positive impact.
A black-tie awards
ceremony, set for 6-8 p.m. Saturday at the Pfister Hotel, will grant more than
$200,000 to selected charities. Hosted by Good Morning America’s Josh
Elliott, the event will honor seven winners who have given back to their
communities. And it was as Driver described each recipient’s dedication that his eyes began to mist up.
President and CEO of SHARP Literacy, will be recognized for her efforts in
helping thousands of urban school children in the Milwaukee area become
confident readers and writers. On average, students who participate in the
literacy program improve their skills by 40 to 70 percent.
Kohler reminisced about the phone call she received from Driver. “It was almost surreal,” Kohler says.
“He took a liking to our mission, and he believes in it.”
each phone call to the winners of the Driven to Achieve Awards himself. The
calls usually include screaming and yelling, “Oh my God, this is awesome!” in
the background, Driver says. “You never know how you’re going to touch someone’s
ceremony features a silent auction, dinner and a private performance by Gladys
Knight, the "Empress of Soul" and a seven-time Grammy Award winner.
“It’s truly an
honor to honor these great people,” says Driver.
Below are the
winners and their charity of choice. Check out the Donald Driver Foundation website to learn more about each of their efforts.
Anthony Robles, Make a Hero
Douglas Meijer, Blessings in a Backpack
Knight, Multiple Charities
John Bergstrom, Fox Cities Boys & Girls Clubs
Laura Ziemer, Miracle League of the Lakeshore
Lynda Kohler, SHARP Literacy
Patti Gorsky, Make-A-Wish