Orchard Park, N.Y. (Bills news release) -- Buffalo Bills safety and team captain George Wilson has been named the Buffalo Bills 2011 Walter Payton Man of the Year as voted on by selected members of the Western New York community.
Wilson was also chosen for the award in 2009.
The award began in 1970 and honors players who demonstrate outstanding balance in their lives between civic and professional responsibilities. In 1999, the NFL renamed the award after the late Walter Payton as a tribute to his greatness both on and off the field.
Wilson is having an outstanding season on the field. Despite missing three games due to injury, he leads the Bills with four interceptions and is second on the team in total tackles with 96. He is also being recognized for his great work in the community.
In 2011, Wilson was a recipient of the President’s Council on Fitness, Sports & Nutrition Community Leadership Award, which is an award given annually to individuals who improve the lives of people within their community by providing or enhancing opportunities to engage in sports, physical activities, fitness or nutrition-related programs. This year, the President’s Council presented the Community Leadership Award to 38 individuals across the country for making sports, physical activity, fitness and nutrition-related programs available in their communities.
Since arriving in 2004, Wilson is among the team’s most active participants in Bills community programs. For the past six years, he has been a spokesperson of the Bills Play 60 Campaign supported by BlueCross BlueShield of Western New York and Tops Friendly Markets, and encourages physical activity among children for at least 60 minutes each day. As an active member of the Buffalo Bills Play 60 Challenge, he has interacted with thousands of children encouraging them to remain physically active and to engage in healthy lifestyles. Wilson helped to introduce the program in a kickoff celebration for over 2,700 students. At the assembly, he participated in a Play 60 themed trivia show and also shared health and fitness tips with the group of 3rd through 6th grade students.
Wilson also showed his support to the Play 60 Program by visiting H.O. Brumsted Elementary in Holland, N.Y., which was named the 2011 Buffalo Bills “Play 60 Super School” through the Back to Football Friday Program. He participated in the Ultimate Physical Education Class and attended when the Bills presented the $10,000 grant to the school to help contribute to their health and wellness initiatives.
Wilson participated in the Play 60 Fitness Party in December, 2011. Over 300 children from Buffalo Public and area schools came to the Bills Healthy Zone Fieldhouse to hear George and his teammates discuss the importance of staying active for 60 minutes a day, and play interactive fitness-themed events with George and the Bills players.
As a contributing member of the 2011 Buffalo Bills Community Ticket Program, each year Wilson purchases 20 tickets to all Bills home games and donates them to the Buffalo Public Schools. Guests of “George’s Jungle” are given food and beverage vouchers as well.
For the past three years Wilson has served as a spokesperson for the American Red Cross Blood Drives at Ralph Wilson Stadium. He has helped draw fans to the blood drive which ultimately saved many lives.
In 2011, Wilson served as a spokesperson for the Buffalo Bills Kids Escaping Drugs Campaign. With his teammates, Wilson assisted in helping raise over $8,000 for the organization. In addition, he also mentored a group of 15 young men from a local community center in Buffalo through the “That’s Life” Program in 2010 and still has a strong bond with each one of the boys.
For his commitment to the community and passion for helping others, Wilson was selected by United Way Worldwide to serve as one of their national spokespersons in 2011. He traveled to Washington D.C. during the offseason and went through a five-day training period about mentoring and literacy education. He now dedicates time to recruiting volunteers to mentor and educate the nation’s youth.
Wilson also found time to join many teammates at the Bills annual holiday party for children on December 13, 2011. The party was for 100 children from nine different charitable organizations and Wilson joined his teammates in visiting with children and their families and handing out presents to the kids.
As host of the popular BuffaloBills.com website program “What’s the Word!” with George Wilson, Wilson uses the platform to interact with his teammates, get to know them better and share the fun with fans.
Wilson was recognized for his commitment to youth when he received the President’s Volunteer Service Award in 2008. The President’s Volunteer Service Award was given to a player from each NFL team who contributes to his community by encouraging kids to stay active and healthy. This “lifetime call to service” recognition is the highest service honor one can receive from the White House.
In addition to the community work that he does in Buffalo, Wilson also gives back to his hometown of Paducah, Kentucky. This past summer he hosted his 3rd Annual Sports Fest Football Camp that benefitted his alma mater, Tilghman High School. This event includes a football/cheerleading camp, bowling tournament and charity basketball game.
Wilson started his own foundation called the George Wilson S.A.F.E.T.Y. Foundation (Saving Adolescents From Everyday Trials of Youth) to help support his mission of serving young people in the community and giving back using the unique gifts he has. One of the primary events that the S.A.F.E.T.Y. Foundation hosts in the Buffalo area is his “Boxes of Love” event at which he provides meals for 100 families during the Thanksgiving holiday. New for the 2011 season, Wilson hosted a Bowling Night at Manor Lanes, which served as a fundraiser for his foundation. He has hosted numerous events in Paducah, including a Life Skills Camping Retreat where Wilson teaches 50 students about leadership, responsibility, self-esteem and life fundamentals. The retreat is a two-night stay which takes place every April.
As the Bills Walter Payton Man of the Year, Wilson will receive $1,000 for the charity of his choice from NFL Charities and is eligible for the league-wide NFL Walter Payton Man of the Year honor. The NFL Man of the Year will be selected by a blue ribbon panel and recognized at a press conference during Super Bowl week. The national winner will receive a $25,000 donation to the 501c3 organization of his choice.
Former Bills honored with this award include Fred Jackson, Lee Evans, Drew Bledsoe, Jim Kelly, Jerry Butler, Ted Washington, London Fletcher, Ruben Brown and Brian Moorman.