In 2010, philanthropic New Orleans Saints quarterback Drew Brees took his career to another level by winning Super Bowl XLIV and now Matt Ryan is poised to join him.
The Atlanta Falcons QB has long been considered one of the elite players at his position in the NFL but a trip to the biggest stage in all of sports eluded him… until now. Ryan will look to etch his name in the history books when he and the Falcons take on the New England Patriots in Super Bowl LI on February 5.
— Matt Ryan (@M_Ryan02) January 23, 2017
Much like Brees, Ryan shines equally as bright off the field as he does on it. Let’s take a look at the many ways in which this charitable athlete gives back.
Matt Ryan Gives Back to Children
Combining his love of golf and passion for helping children, Ryan annually hosts a celebrity golf tournament with proceeds benefitting the Children’s Healthcare of Atlanta (CHOA), specifically the Aflac Cancer and Blood Disorder Centers of the specialized pediatric hospitals.
The event annually raises between $250,000 and $300,000.
“It’s gotten a little bit bigger, a little bit better every year and we raise a little bit more money,” Ryan said following the sixth year of the tournament in 2016.
“Obviously it’s something I look forward to. To be able to raise money for CHOA and to be able to help them in some small way is rewarding for me and I think it’s really rewarding for the people who get to come out and have a fun day,” he added.
Among the famous faces Ryan draws to his tournament are former Falcons QB Steve Bartkowski and former Atlanta Braves players Phil Niekro and Chipper Jones.
— Kelsey Conway (@FalconsKelsey) April 11, 2016
The CHOA has three hospitals and 27 neighborhood facilities throughout Georgia and sees roughly 870,000 patients per year.
Dinner for Two with No. 2
In addition to his golf tournament, Ryan raises funds for the CHOA Aflac Cancer Center through his annual “Dinner for Two with No. 2,” which is named after his jersey number.
The evening features a Q&A segment with Ryan and a guest (previous participants include Falcons players Tony Gonzalez and Roddy White), along with a meet-and-greet photo opportunity for attendees and a signed football given for every two seats sponsored.
Ryan and his wife, Sarah, donate $500 for every donation of $1,500.
“The Aflac Cancer Center means so much to Sarah and me,” Ryan said ahead of the inaugural dinner in 2013. “We’ve hosted a golf tournament the last three years and this “Dinner for Two with #2” with Tony Gonzalez will be a fun way to broaden that support.”
My Cause My Cleats
In 2016, Ryan took part in the NFL’s #MyCauseMyCleats social campaign which saw hundreds of players wear custom cleats promoting charitable causes during games.
Ryan once again chose to bring awareness to CHOA sporting the nonprofit organization’s logo on his shoes. He shared his kicks on Instagram along with the caption: “I’m committed to making all kids better today and healthier tomorrow.”
Matt Ryan is a Role Model for Kids
In an age when professional athletes are more visible than ever, Ryan takes pride in setting a good example for the youth of America.
“I think you certainly are a role model, especially in the social media age we live right now,” he said during the Best of Preps Banquet in 2011. “Everything we do can be seen by kids. One of the greatest responsibilities we have is to influence them positively. That’s not something I take lightly.”
There’s no better way to set a positive example than through your actions. Outside of his work with CHOA, Ryan routinely donates to local Atlanta schools, takes part in the Falcon’s online reading program “Read with a Falcon,” and partners with the Make-A-Wish Foundation granting “Meet Matt Ryan” wishes.
Walter Payton NFL Man of the Year Nominee
Ryan’s good deeds haven’t gone unnoticed by the NFL and the Falcons.
In 2016, he was named the team’s nominee for the 2016 Walter Payton NFL Man of the Year award, given out annually to the player who exemplifies excellence on and off the field.
“Matt has set the tone for our team in many ways; as a leader in the locker room, on the field and in our community. He helps us be the best team that we can be,” said Falcons head coach Dan Quinn.
“This really means a lot; to be compared to someone like Walter Payton, because of what he stood for and what kind of person he was both on and off the field. And also to be grouped with the great list of players and men that have won in the past. I’m very proud of the impact we’ve made on the community here in Atlanta, I’m very proud of what I’ve done on the field and it is an honor to even be considered for this recognition,” Ryan said.
Win or lose on the field, Matt Ryan’s lasting legacy will be the impact he made, and continues to make, in and around the Atlanta community.
Stay tuned to Good Celebrity this week as we bring you more celebrity news stories about Super Bowl stars and how they’re giving back to their communities!