The San Francisco 49ers announced that in a pregame ceremony on December 27 before the home game versus the Detroit Lions, the winners of the third annual 49ers Perry/Yonamine Unity Award will be recognized for their outstanding community achievements for 2009.
The award, named for the former 49ers players and pioneers of unity and diversity, Joe "The Jet" Perry and Wally Yonamine, will be presented to 49ers linebacker Takeo Spikes, Coach Craig Connelly of the Santa Clara Lions Football Club, and Youth Community Service (YCS). The award annually honors a current 49ers players, a Bay Area youth football coach and a local non-profit agency that has demonstrated, as Perry and Yonamine did, an exceptional commitment to promoting unity within their team and in their community.
In honor of their achievements, the San Francisco 49ers Foundation will be making $10,000 contributions in their names to the Youth Community Service (YCS), Santa Clara Lions Football Club and, on behalf of Takeo Spikes, the 49ers Academy.
Spikes was chosen for his leadership, character and determination, all of which unite his teammates. The 12-year NFL veteran demonstrates the spirit of unity and teamwork, both on and off the field, while his tremendous play on the field and intense work ethic is further bolstered by his position as a leader in the community.
This season, Spikes is spearheading a group of teammates to visit a local children's hospital following the holidays to provide those children, who were unable to spend the holidays at home, with something extra to smile about. He also participated in the annual San Francisco Food Bank event where a host of players spent time filling supplemental food boxes for individuals in need. In addition, Spikes has his own foundation, the 51 Ways Foundation, which he and retired NFL linebacker Carlos Emmons created to support families of children who have been diagnosed with cancer and blood disorders, through financial, spiritual and physical resources.
Coach Connelly, of the Santa Clara Lions Football Club, was chosen as the Unity Award winner in the youth football category. He has been the head coach of the Santa Clara Lions Football Club for 42 years and has served as President and Athletic Director for the past 38 years. This year, Coach Connelly led his team to a third place finish at the National Championships in Florida.
YCS was founded in 1990 as a unique partnership between the cities of East Palo Alto and Palo Alto, and their two school districts - Ravenswood City School District and Palo Alto Unified School District - with the goal of increasing cross-community awareness and collaboration through youth service. By developing service and leadership opportunities for young people, and service learning support for teachers, YCS promotes the ethic of service, fosters youth leadership, builds community, and enhances education in Santa Clara and San Mateo Counties in the Bay Area. Since its founding, YCS has engaged more than 15,000 young people in service opportunities that allow them to learn more about themselves and their community, providing over 100,000 hours of service to more than 40 local community organizations. http://www.youthcommunityservice.org
The Selection Process
The Unity Award for the 49ers player is decided upon by their fellow teammates and coaches. The 49ers Community Relations staff reviews the applications for the youth football coach and non-profit agency.