Former Bills quarterback Frank Reich was in Buffalo on Saturday to present Heath Evans, the bruising fullback for the Super Bowl Champion New Orleans Saints, with the 2010 Call To Courage Award at the Hyatt in downtown Buffalo.
Reich is known for engineering the “Greatest Comeback in NFL History,”) but he is also nearly as popular for being the founder of the Call to Courage Award which has become a nationally recognized sports awards breakfast that takes place annually in Buffalo.
Evans, a devout Christian, received the award in front of over 700 Buffalo-area football fans. He was honored for the outstanding community work and moral beliefs he fosters with his foundation that is dedicated to providing hope and healing in the lives of children and families affected by sexual abuse.
Each year, Reich presents the award to an NFL player displaying outstanding character, commitment and leadership on and off the field and in the community.
Previous winners of the prestigious award include kicker John Kasay (2009), quarterback Kurt Warner (2008), quarterback Chad Pennington (2007), linebacker Don Davis (2006), quarterback Jon Kitna (2005), running back Curtis Martin (2004), fullback John Christian (2003) and quarterback Trent Dilfer (2002).
The host for the breakfast was Bills All-Pro safety Jairus Byrd who tied for the NFL lead with nine interceptions in 2009. A highlight reel showcasing Byrd's NFL leading nine interceptions was shown, and Byrd presented the Call to Courage Award for local high school football players.
Bills players attending included linebacker/safety Jon Corto, long snapper Garrison Sanborn and new running back Walter Mendenhall. In addition to Reich, other Bills alumni in attendance were Al Bemiller, Carl Byrum, Bob Dugan, Booker Edgerson, Charley Ferguson, Jeff Nixon, Marlo Perry, Ed Rutkowski and Steve Tasker. A special video was shown to honor and highlight the career of former Bills fullback Wayne Patrick who recently passed away.
The emcee of the event was John Murphy, the radio voice of the Bills.
Robert Malave, South Park High School senior running back, won the Call to Courage Award for an outstanding high school football player. The other finalists for the high school honor were James Donner, Niagara Wheatfield; Tyler Krempa, Williamsville South; Kyle Martin, Wilson Central; and Levi Pace, Medina.
A father of two and the husband of a wife who experienced sexual abuse as a young girl, Evans is clearly and humbly dedicated to this cause and proudly credits all of his passion on and off the field to God.
Evans is currently in therapy for a knee injury suffered earlier in the season, but he hasn't let the injury hold him back. From sharing his positive attitude around his teammates to using his spiritual passion to help people, Evans' energy is infectious and inspirational.
Fred and Kathy Raines are the Athletes In Action couple that have been in charge of the AIA Buffalo Pro Ministry for the past 27 years. For more information regarding Athletes in Action and the Call to Courage Award visit www.aiabuffalo.com.