For his tireless work in the community and his dedication to charitable causes, Mark Giordano has been named this year’s ESPN Muhammad Ali Sports Humanitarian Of The Year.
The award recognizes an athlete “whose continuous, demonstrated leadership has created a positive impact on their community through sports.”
As the winner, the Flames captain will direct a $100,000 grant from ESPN to his charity, Team Giordano.
“It was really special, right from the start – watching the video of Muhammad Ali and then being able to win the award at the end of the night, I’m truly honoured,” Giordano told CalgaryFlames.com.
“It’s a pretty emotional night, pretty surreal for me right now.”
Prior to receiving the award, Giordano was introduced to the crowd with a video highlighting the work Team Giordano has done in Calgary.
Founded in 2014, the Team Giordano program has developed relationships with four high-needs schools in the city and provided much-needed resources to each institution. In total, the program has distributed $300,000 to the schools, impacting the lives of 1,900 students. Mark and Lauren Giordano also make regular visits to the schools, talking to the students about fitness, leadership, academic success, and goal-setting.
Following the summary of Giordano’s work, ESPN reviewed the Ali’s charitable contributions and how he impacted society with his work.
“Being forever linked to a man like this is something I’m going to cherish and really carry on and spend some time explaining to my children when they get older,” he said.
Being around so many like-minded individuals over the past couple of days has been inspirational for Giordano and has fuelled his desire to help more people in his community.
“There’s so many great people in the room tonight … it’s such a great event, I’ve never been a part of anything like it, to be honest.
“Tonight was another eye-opener – so many great people that you grow up idolizing and watching in the room with us tonight and you see the work they do in their communities.”
The Flames organization is thrilled to see Giordano recognized on such a grand stage, showing the sports industry how committed their captain is to his community.
“He is so deserving,” general manager Brad Treliving told CalgaryFlames.com. “And he doesn’t do any of this for applause. He doesn’t do it because he has to. He does it because he wants to.
“He doesn’t do this for recognition or awards or any of that but you’re always happy for a person who commits like he does to be recognized.
“We are fortunate to have Gio and his wife, Lauren, as a part of community.”
Giordano’s charitable work has also been recognized by the NHL. Last year, he won the NHL Foundation Award and this year, he was named a finalist for the Mark Messier Leadership Award.
“The biggest thing you see is the time and effort he puts in with his foundation, with charity events and the stuff he just takes on himself without anyone asking,” head coach Glen Gulutzan told CalgaryFlames.com. “And he does it without seeking any credit or notoriety … he just wants to give back.”
By Torie Peterson