Colorado Rapids midfielder Chris Henderson was named the U.S. Soccer Foundation Humanitarian of the Year at the MLS Cup Media Luncheon in The Home Depot Center on Friday.
"First, thanks to the U.S. Soccer Foundation for the award," Henderson said. "Thanks to Mr. Anschutz because he pretty much helped me get (the Chris Henderson Charitable Foundation) off the ground. And thanks to Kroenke Sports and Puma. They've all supported everything we're doing: the fundraisers, the leukemia outreach.
"All of the support that's arond has been really important and we can help kids, especially in the Denver area, through soccer."
Twice in years past Henderson has won Humanitarian of the Year for his club, the first coming in 2001 while with the Miami Fusion, and then in 2003 with the Rapids. But Friday's announcement marks the first time in his nine-year MLS career that Henderson has been the league's award winner. Runners-up for the honor are defender Steve Jolley of the Dallas Burn and Chicago Fire midfielder Jesse Marsch.
Henderson recently completed his sixth season in Colorado. His 2004 campaign was quite successful, as he captured club records for both points earned and games played, surpassing Paul Bravo and Marcelo Balboa respectively. However, some of Henderson's greatest contributions in the Denver area and beyond have come off the field.
Henderson created the organization that carries his name, which was created to give cash grants and aid to underprivileged children around Colorado. The 33-year-old also sponsors the "Henderson's Heroes" section of Invesco Field at Mile High, where needy children are given the opportunity to experience the excitement of a live Major League Soccer match.
Henderson is constantly involved in numerous charitable endeavors throughout the year. In 2004, he served as the Rapids' spokesperson for Rapids Car Seat Safety, the Special Olympics, the Leukemia and Lymphoma Society and Pro Active Pro Athletes Against Domestic Violence. He was recognized as the Sports Profiles Colorado Rapids Humanitarian of the Year.
"There's a big fundraiser in January and we're going to be giving scholarships, not only college soccer scholarships, but also to at-risk and underpriviledged kids who can't afford equipment and registration fees for soccer," Henderson said of his offseason efforts. "I'll continue with the leukemia outreach. We'll have 30 season tickets for leukemia kids and their families and we'll also be going to the hospital and making visits."
Henderson was a consistent force on the field for the Rapids as well this season, playing in 29 of the club's 30 regular-season matches and both of their MLS Cup Playoff contests. He finished second on the team in scoring with 11 points from three goals and five assists.
The Rapids had another player nominated for a year-end award, as defender Richie Kotschau was a finalist for the Kraft Fair Play Award. However, MetroStars defender Eddie Pope ultimately claimed that prize.
Jonathan Nierman is a contributor to MLSnet.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Soccer or its clubs.