Award season is almost here.
Players, technical staffers (technical directors, GMs and coaches) and a select group of national and regional media will begin voting for each of the awards on Tuesday, Oct. 17.
Each voting group, representing one-third of the total vote, will have until Monday, Oct. 23 at 5 pm ET to submit their votes.
Below is the list of 22 players named to the ballot for the 2017 MLS WORKS Humanitarian of the Year, presented by Advocare. All players on the Humanitarian of the Year ballot were nominated by their respective club, with a maximum of one nomination permitted per team.
2017 Ballot - MLS WORKS Humanitarian of the Year, presented by Advocare
Mark Bloom (Atlanta United)
Mark Bloom is heavily involved with Cobb County’s Police Athletic League after-school program and the Atlanta United Special Olympics Unified Team. Bloom also works with his college and high school alma maters as well as local soccer clubs to mentor athletes to success – bringing fellow teammates along to exemplify how players can make a difference in their community.
Matt Lampson (Chicago Fire)
Ten years after his own battle with cancer, Matt Lampson continues to work tirelessly to help find a cure for childhood cancer. In 2017 the LampStrong Foundation, the non-profit dedicated to providing difference-making financial, emotional and motivational support to cancer patients and their families, made a $20,000 donation to the Lurie Children’s Hospital of Chicago’s Healthy Living Initiative, which teaches families of children with cancer about healthy lifestyle choices. This year Lampson found a creative outlet for his love of donuts, raising more than $4,000 in donut-centric fundraisers. He also expanded his Hero Program, hosting survivors and patients at Fire home and away games, in addition to field trips to the Shedd Aquarium and hospital and home visits, helping the kids and families find a break from the emotional grind of dealing with cancer treatments and its effects.
Zac MacMath (Colorado Rapids)
MacMath played an integral part of the Rapids’ community efforts in 2017. MacMath has been an active member of the club's Special Olympics Unified Program for two seasons, and has formed unbreakable bonds with our athletes who look up to him for guidance and mentorship. MacMath has also participated in soccer clinics & camps encouraging healthy lifestyles, made hospital visits, and participated in several impactful events and fundraisers benefiting Kroenke Sports Charities, which provides community programming for youth and families in Colorado.
Jonathan Mensah (Columbus Crew SC)
In his first year in MLS, Mensah was active in the Columbus community, donating time at events with Make-A-Wish, Habitat For Humanity and others while also assisting in clinics for challenged youth from the Linden area and the Down Syndrome Association of Central Ohio. Additionally, Mensah hosted a donation drive for new/gently used equipment, which was brought back to children in Ghana via the Jonathan Mensah Foundation
Steve Birnbaum (D.C. United)
This year Birnbaum became an ambassador for Special Olympics DC (SODC) encouraging youth to build fitness, confidence, respect and inclusion through the teams Unified Soccer program and by leading a series of pep rallies in support of the “Spread the Word to End the Word” campaign. He also took part in the organization’s annual Polar Plunge event aimed at raising money and awareness for Special Olympics DC. The event helped raise more than $200,000 for the organization.
Ryan Hollingshead (FC Dallas)
Ryan Hollingshead risked not just his career but his life to save a stranger. En route to help a friend during an icy, DFW winter weather event on January 7, 2017, Hollingshead stopped to aid vehicles involved in a separate incident. This accident had left the passenger stranded in the fast lane at dusk without headlights. While assisting the motorist, Hollingshead was struck by an automobile and thrown 30 feet down the highway, breaking three vertebrae in his neck. Amazingly, he sustained no spinal cord damage and no surgery was required, though he had to wear a neck brace for several weeks.Hollingshead returned to the field four-months later, in a 1-1 draw against New York City FC on May 14.
Andrew Wenger (Houston Dynamo)
Wenger has been a constant fixture in the Houston community since he arrived at the Dynamo. Earlier this year he worked hand in hand with a local community center to create The First Pass Imitative, a program focused on teaching the kids the game of soccer along with educational curriculum. Wenger was able to pull together Dynamo players and staff to volunteer their time with these kids throughout the season.
Rafael Garcia (LA Galaxy)
Garcia was an extension of the LA Galaxy Foundation all season, going beyond his commitment to the club and recognizing a larger commitment to the community. Always the first player to volunteer for any community event, Garcia spent countless hours giving back to the community, including working events for Read Across America Celebration, LA Galaxy’s Youth Development Camp, Heal the Bay Beach Cleanup and Special Olympics Young Athletes Festival, among others. He was also an LA Galaxy Special Olympics Unified mentor and guest motivational speaker.
Brent Kallman (Minnesota United FC)
A leader on and off the pitch, Minnesota-native Brent Kallman leads Minnesota United in charitable appearances, spearheading the club's work with pediatrics and supporting the families and volunteers impacted. Clocking almost two children’s hospital or Ronald McDonald house visits a month, Kallman was a recognizable face in the community, and a catalyst for service in the locker room.
Patrice Bernier (Montreal Impact)
Patrice Bernier is not only a leader on the pitch but off the pitch as well. Throughout his career he has strived to be involved and to make a difference in his local community. With the Montreal Impact, he’s visited hundreds of children in schools and was constantly involved in projects with club partners. On a personal standpoint, not only does he serve as spokesperson for organizations such as the OMHM and the Center for Child and Youth Protection (AMU), he is also an ambassador for Opérations Enfants Soleil and La Maison D’Haiti.
Kelyn Rowe (New England Revolution)
As Kelyn Rowe made the jump to the US men's national team in 2017, he has also taken his philanthropic efforts from the local to the national stage. Kelyn's NEGU (Never, Ever Give Up) Crew – part of his extensive work with the Jessie Rees Foundation – hosted pediatric cancer patients and their families at home and away matches from coast to coast.
Sean Johnson (New York City FC)
Sean Johnson has had both an impressive and impactful first season with NYCFC. Not only did Johnson become a fan favorite for the team, but he has also won the hearts of the New York community through various City in the Community events and appearances.
Luis Robles (New York Red Bulls)
Luis Robles again served as the spokesman for Tackle Kids Cancer Campaign. Robles hosted a dinner that raised over $105,000, with 100 percent of money raised set to go directly to research to end childhood cancer. Robles also donated $10,000 of his own money to charitable causes, made monthly visits to children's hospitals, volunteered at clinics and programs for underprivileged children and participated in community efforts on behalf of the Red Bulls.
Kevin Alston (Orlando City SC)
Alston, the 2013 MLS WORKS Comeback Player of the Year after being diagnosed with chronic myelogenous leukemia (CML) early that season, has been involved with the Leukemia and Lymphoma Society (LLS) in New England and Central Florida, in a volunteer and fundraising capacity as well as an advocate and spokesperson. He is a frequent visitor at Arnold Palmer Hospital for Children and has also volunteered on behalf of Orlando City speaking at schools about his background and life experiences.
CJ Sapong (Philadephia Union)
CJ Sapong put his desire to help the planet to paper this year by officially starting his own nonprofit, Sacred Seeds. The organization aims to create urban greenhouses across Philadelphia and beyond to bring income-generating resources and technology as well as nourishment to underserved communities so that they may thrive for generations to come. More information is available at www.thesacredseeds.org.
Diego Valeri (Portland Timbers)
Diego Valeri has been an integral part of the Timbers community efforts in 2017, supporting natural-disaster relief efforts both locally and nationally, assisting with a visitation room for foster care children and helping to dedicate new futsal courts. Valeri also participated in bilingual reading events and numerous postgame meet-and-greets with the Children’s Cancer Association and Special Olympics Oregon.
Justin Schmidt (Real Salt Lake)
The No. 1 fan of the RSL Special Olympics Unified Team, Schmidt lives his faith by serving others. He gives his time to these athletes by training with them and cheering them on at games. In addition, Schmidt has given a significant amount of his time to Shriners Hospital and attends their community events.
Tommy Thompson (San Jose Earthquakes)
Tommy Thompson is always willing to assist with every cause the Quakes support, from Get EQ Fit appearances to visiting families in flood shelters, even when given just a couple hours-notice. Tommy also routinely participates at school assemblies and loves to put smiles on everyone’s faces with his soccer tricks and flair.
Jordan Morris (Seattle Sounders)
Morris earned Sounders FC Humanitarian of the Year honors for the second consecutive season in 2017, continuing to build upon his commitment to the Type-1 Diabetes community. As part of his T1D Playmakers program launched this year, Morris has met with T1D youth following every home match and select away matches in 2017, sharing his experience to show them they are not alone. Morris has also conducted multiple T1D Talks, providing fireside chats about battling Type-1 Diabetes with over 300 local T1D youths and their families at each session. He also was the face of Seattle Foundation’s 2017 GiveBIG Campaign that raised $19 million in 24 hours, then served as Team Captain for JDRF’s Beat the Bridge run and raised over $10,000 for JDRF Seattle. Additionally, the Seattle native launches the Jordan Morris Foundation on Oct. 13, while also beginning visits to T1D inpatients at Seattle Children’s Hospital monthly starting in October.
Seth Sinovic (Sporting Kansas City)
Sinovic has been involved in several Victory Project initiatives this season and throughout his Sporting KC career. In addition to participating in fundraisers, Sinovic has made monthly visits to Children’s Mercy Hospital and raised awareness for the Victory Project through TV and radio appearances. He is also a loyal supporter of Braden’s Hope, another organization committed to fighting childhood cancer.
Jozy Altidore (Toronto FC)
Altidore raised over $165,000 for St. Luke Foundation and Hospital in Haiti during a fundraiser in New York City. His foundation, launched in 2011, made two-year financial commitments to Toronto’s Hospital for Sick Children, toward maintenance and furnishing of hospital’s Healing Garden and to the Centre for Addiction and Mental Health. Altidore also donated his game check from the recent US-Panama match to help hurricane-relief and Las Vegas tragedy efforts.
Russell Teibert (Vancouver Whitecaps FC)
Homegrown Canadian international midfielder Russell Teibert actively volunteered his time to raise awareness and funds for street youth that access services at Covenant House Vancouver. He organized a team carwash fundraiser for the club’s #BuckUp for Mental Health campaign, and participated in the Covenant House Sleep Out, among many other charitable efforts and appearances.
Complete ballots for the other awards will be released over the coming days. Finalists (three per award) will be announced on Tuesday, October 31.