Tampa Bay, FL (OnFocus) – The NFL Players Association announced Hayden Hurst as the recipient of the 2021 Alan Page Community Award at its annual Super Bowl press conference on Thursday. In recognition, the NFLPA will donate $100,000 to The Hayden Hurst Family Foundation.
“It is truly an honor to receive the 2021 Alan Page Community Award,” Hurst said. “I cannot begin to explain how much this means to me, my family, and to all the people that we will now be able to help through the use of these funds.”
As the NFLPA’s highest honor, the Alan Page Community Award annually recognizes one player who demonstrates a profound dedication to positively impacting his team’s city and communities across the country, following in the spirit of the Pro Football Hall of Famer and social pioneer for whom the honor is named.
This winter, in a video and article posted on the Atlanta Falcons website, Hurst opened up about his struggle with depression, the misuse of substances and his attempted suicide in 2016. In the weeks since, he has received a flood of support, generating more than $150,000 in donations to The Hayden Hurst Family Foundation, which raises awareness of mental health issues in children and adolescents by funding mental health services and programs.
During this week’s NFLPA #AthleteAnd Players Summit, Hurst shared that, in the days following the release of the video, he received a message from a man who happened to see it and explained that Hurst’s story is what stopped him from taking his own life. This is just one of the many examples of how Hurst has directly impacted the hundreds of individuals who have reached out to his foundation.
In the time since Hurst was named this season’s Week 13 NFLPA Community MVP, he has connected with more than 700 individuals, making a personal connection while pointing them toward resources and experts who can provide the help they needed. While this is not the first time that Hurst has shared his inspiring testimony, the courage shown in this instance helped empower those experiencing similar struggles that “it’s okay not to be okay,” which is why he continues to share his story to help make a difference in the lives of others.
The funding raised in the past two months allowed his foundation to support the mental health of nearly 270 teachers, 5,500 students and 8,185 parents through a program called In Focus, which implements social and emotional training programs into local K-8 schools in Atlanta, Maryland and South Carolina. The other funds will go toward providing assistance to two low-income schools in Florida.
“God works in mysterious ways and I believe my second chance was given to me so I could share my story and help save lives,” Hurst said.
Hurst was chosen as this year’s Alan Page Community Award winner from among five finalists following an electronic ballot vote that was open to all of his NFL peers from across the league. The finalists – Hurst, Geno Atkins (Cincinnati Bengals), Kevin Byard (Tennessee Titans), Patrick Mahomes (Kansas City Chiefs) and Harrison Phillips (Buffalo Bills) — were selected by an external committee of judges across labor, media, sport and charity from among the 18 Community MVPs awarded during the 2020 regular season.
For more information on the Alan Page Community Award, please visit NFLPA.com/community-mvp.
We welcome your stories! Contact us at [email protected]!