Chicago White Sox and Chicago Bulls owner Jerry Reinsdorf will receive the Jefferson Award, one of the nation’s top honors for community service and volunteerism. Former NFL running back Warrick Dunn is being honored alongside Reinsdorf on June 21.
Past recipients of the 39-year-old award include General Colin Powell, television personality Oprah Winfrey, former Supreme Court Justice Sandra Day O’Connor and NFL star Peyton Manning.
Jerry Reinsdorf has made Chicago a much better place for sports fans and non-sports fans alike. He has worked tirelessly on behalf of his community, ensuring that his White Sox and Bulls are as ingrained in the community as the community is in them.
-Sam Beard, founder and president of the American Institute for Public Service and The Jefferson Awards
Here is the profile of Reinsdorf from the Jefferson Awards press release. It’s worth a read if the scale of positive to negative press for owners you’re been exposed to these days is tipping in the wrong direction.
Reinsdorf has made an impact on professional sports for the better part of 30 years as the owner of the Chicago White Sox and Chicago Bulls. He became the third owner in the history of North American sports to win a championship in two different sports when the White Sox won the 2005 World Series – the Bulls have won six World Championships (1991-93, 1996-98) during Reinsdorf’s reign.
Reinsdorf, who previously served as an attorney, certified public accountant and real estate developer, led the limited partnership that purchased the White Sox in 1981. Since then, he has been a fixture in Major League Baseball initiatives at an industry-wide level. Reinsdorf serves as a member of MLB’s Executive Council and the Boards of MLB Advanced Media, MLB Networks and MLB Enterprises. He was involved in the decision to return baseball to Washington, D.C., as chairman of the Relocation Committee, and he also serves on MLB’s Equal Opportunity Committee and was instrumental in the formation of Baseball’s Diverse Business Partners Program, through which Major League Baseball and its clubs have purchased more than $260 million in goods and services from minority and women-owned businesses since its founding in 1998.
Both the White Sox and Bulls have donated millions to causes in the Chicago community through the Chicago White Sox Charities and CharitaBulls. Among the many organizations that have benefited from Reinsdorf’s charities are the Chicago Park District, Special Olympics and the Inner City Little League. Chicago White Sox Charities rebuilt all of the city’s baseball diamonds and backstops in the 1990s, made a $1 million donation to build four ballfields – baseball, softball, Little League baseball and a Miracle League Field designed for children with special needs, and recently donated $2 million dollars to the Salvation Army to help build the Ray & Joan Kroc Center on Chicago’s south side.
In response to President Barack Obama’s call to national service, the White Sox created the White Sox Volunteer Corps in 2009. More than 5,000 White Sox fans, along with team members, have donated almost 10,000 hours of community service since the Corps creation, renovating public schools, Boys & Girls Clubs, re-packing food for the hungry and donating much-needed blood during the summer months. Through their Energizabulls program, the Chicago Bulls offer schools and thousands of children a specially designed exercise program to combat childhood obesity and diabetes.
This is truly a wonderful recognition, one that I am very humbled and honored to receive. I’m thankful to all who have had a hand in helping along the way. All sports teams have a responsibility to give back to the fans and the communities that support them. Hopefully, we’ve done our own small part in improving the quality of life for Chicagoans of all ages, races and genders.
- Jerry Reinsdorf
For more on the Jefferson Awards, visit www.JeffersonAwards.org
All Stars Helping Kids, founded by NFL Hall of Famer Ronnie Lott in 1989, teamed up with the Jefferson Awards for Public Service to inspire people to Get in the Game by recognizing and honoring professional athletes that are giving back. All Stars helped the Jefferson Awards identify and promote athletes with a proven track record of community outreach as well as those that are just getting started, but possess a sincere passion for service. The mission of All Stars Helping Kids is to promote a safe, healthy and rigorous learning environment for disadvantaged kids in low-income communities. All Stars has been a galvanizing force and vehicle for individuals, professional athletes and corporate partners to invest in the future of children in the San Francisco Bay Area and beyond. Over the last two decades, All Stars has raised more than $20 million to fulfill its mission. For more information on all of the professional athlete Jefferson Award nominees, please visit www.allstarshelpingkids.org