Georgetown Lombardi Comprehensive Cancer Center will honor New England Patriots owner, Robert Kraft, for his advocacy of cancer research and awareness at the 26th Annual Lombardi Gala on Nov. 3 in Washington, D.C.
Lombardi Center and the National Football League (NFL) Players Association chose Kraft to receive the first ever NFL Players Association Georgetown Lombardi Award. Georgetown University says the award was “established to honor a leader in the sports industry whose life and family have been touched by cancer, and who encourages cancer research…through awareness and philanthropy.”
The Kraft family has been leading philanthropists in New England, donating more than $100 million to charities including cancer research organizations in the past 40 years. He was personally touched by cancer last year when his wife, Myra Hiatt Kraft, succumbed to her battle with ovarian cancer. In response to her passing the Patriots wore “MHK” patches on their jerseys in her memory.
"The NFL Players Association wanted to recognize an outstanding industry leader," said Jilane Rodgers, NFL Players Association spokesperson." Robert Kraft's wife Myra passed... during the NFL lockout in 2011. The loss deeply affected players and owners alike, but Mr. Kraft remained a vital figure in talks until a new CBA [collective bargaining agreement between the NFL and team owners] was signed."
Rodgers said Kraft's perseverance in working to solve the 2011 NFL lockdown, caused by conflicts between the NFL and team owners over players' salaries, health benefits, television contracts and more, during the time of his wife's death, as well as his charitable giving, made him a "natural selection" for the award.
Georgetown Lombardi Director Louis M. Weiner, M.D., called Kraft a "champion off the field."
Kraft has donated $20,000 million to improving health centers that provide care to the underprivileged, according to Stacey James, spokesperson for the Patriots. James also said Kraft began supporting the Dana-Farber Cancer Institute of Boston when his wife was still alive. In the last year, Kraft has donated $5 million to Dana-Farber for "cancer care equity and women's cancer care research," according to James.
“We honor Kraft for his vision to recognize the need for generous community support for cancer research if we are to defeat this devastating set of diseases,” said Weiner in a statement.
The NFL Players Association recognizes the importance of cancer and cancer prevention research as well and has partnered with the Lombardi Center. The late Green Bay Packers and Washington Redskins NFL coach Vince Lombardi was treated for cancer at Georgetown University but lost his battle to cancer in 1970. The Georgetown Lombardi Comprehensive Cancer Center was named in the NFL coach’s memory.
This year’s Lombardi Gala, held to raise money for Georgetown University cancer research, will be at the Washington Hilton at 1919 Connecticut Ave., NW, from 6 p.m. to 11:30 p.m. The event is open to the public, and tickets are still available online for $500.
In the past 26 years, the annual gala has brought in “nearly $20 million,” according to Mallet, Georgetown Medical Center spokesperson. Mallet said the money raised would continue to fund "cancer-related" research in the interest of "academic-based care."
The gala will include a silent auction and a $100 raffle to win a 2013 Lexus IS-C 250.