Super Bowl, Super Person: Peyton Manning’s Dedication to Charity
One of the by-products of the fundraising profession, if you are lucky, is to meet special people along the way during your career.
When I was vice president for development at St. Vincent Hospitals and Health Services, I met that person. His name is Peyton Williams Manning. In 1998, he was drafted first overall by the NFL's Indianapolis Colts, who made the smart decision to obtain him. Soon after his city arrival, he became a spokesperson for St. Vincent.
I was fortunate enough to interact with him on a personal level. I had dinner with him on Nov. 22, 1999, the day he was on the cover of Sports Illustrated. I was amazed at his knowledge of football at the Ph.D. level. He is a wonderful athlete, a humble and servant leader, and a driven person.
On May 14, 2001, the groundbreaking for the new St. Vincent Children's Hospital of Indiana was held. I directed the capital campaign for the hospital that grew from a parking lot to a reality in two short years. The success of the campaign was due in part to the special role Peyton Manning played to generate time, talent and treasure benefiting children.
Manning agreed to be honorary chair for the children's campaign. He understood that doctors and nurses care about sick children. They make sure family members play an active role in their recovery. He hosted an event for prospects and donors at the Indianapolis Colts complex. You should have seen 60-year-olds in Colts jerseys try to punt, pass and kick with Colts players!
He also starred in videos and other marketing efforts. During this time he also developed his own Peyback Foundation in the community to assist children in need. I was lucky to meet his father Archie Manning at a coin toss at the Hoosier Dome, where the Colts played before an inner-city high school football game that Manning's foundation sponsored. Manning's wife Ashley also became involved in her husband's charitable activities.
The moral of this story is simple. When you have a public campaign, it is helpful that you secure a public figure to be an honorary chair and spokesperson for your organization if at all possible. That person, however, must have the same values, mission and, in many ways, be an extension of the organization.
St. Vincent promotes the healing touch of children through programs directed at the body, mind and spirit of each person. Peyton Manning is very real and walks the walk through his faith and actions. He has visited many sick children and their families since at least 1998. He always exceeded expectations. He always asked to do things quietly and without fanfare. Most people have no clue of the many examples of his actions to help others across the country.
I have worked and interacted with many athletes. Manning is a Hall of Fame person in many ways. I hope, even though his Denver Broncos just lost to the Seattle Seahawks this past weekend, he wins many Super Bowls. Long after his playing days are over, he will continue to impact communities in Indianapolis, where his foundation has already given more than $6.5 million, Denver and other places. I truly believe good things happen to good people. He is a good person.
In honor of the Indianapolis Colts and now Denver Broncos quarterback, St. Vincent renamed the St. Vincent Children's Hospital the Peyton Manning Children's Hospital at St. Vincent Health on Sept. 6, 2007. That outstanding facility speaks for itself.
I didn't know this until recently, when I found out my Kentucky-based niece, who is expecting her first child in August, is naming her child Peyton whether it is a boy or a girl. I would say that is an excellent name to share with someone for life.
Duke has extensive experience as a nonprofit practitioner, author, lecturer and consultant. He has been a contributing author to NonProfit PRO for the last 11 years. He has been a long-standing member of the Association of Fundraising Professionals where he was previously named the AFP Indiana Chapter Fundraising Executive of the Year and has held the CFRE designation for many years.
He received his doctorate degree from West Virginia University with an emphasis in education administration, master's degree from Marshall University with an emphasis in public administration and a bachelor's degree from West Virginia University with an emphasis in marketing/management. He has also completed post graduate work at the University of Louisville.
He is currently executive director of development for The Salvation Army Indiana Division in Indianapolis, IN plus Adjunct Professor for Olivet Nazarene University. Contact Duke at email@example.com or 317-224-1029.