The San Francisco 49ers announced the winners of the second annual 49ers Perry/Yonamine Unity Award during pre-game of the 49ers home game against the Jets on December 7.
The Unity Awards are named after the former 49ers players and pioneers of unity and diversity, Joe "The Jet" Perry and Wally Yonamine. The award honors a current 49ers players, a Bay Area youth football coach and a local non-profit agency that have demonstrated, as Perry and Yonamine did, an exceptional commitment to promoting unity within their team and in their community.
The Perry/Yonamine Unity Award winners for 2008 are 49ers cornerback Donald Strickland, Coyote Creek Youth Sports football and cheerleading coach, Andre K. Hunt, and Abraham's Vision, a Redwood City based non-profit. In honor of their achievements, the San Francisco 49ers Foundation will be making contributions in their names to the Coyote Creek Youth Sports Pop Warner program, Abraham's Vision, and, on behalf of Donald Strickland, the San Francisco Police Activities League.
Strickland, a San Francisco native, was chosen as the Unity Award winner for a variety of reasons. He exemplifies leadership, character and determination that unite his teammates. Strickland demonstrates the spirit of unity and teamwork both on and off the field as his strong play on the field and intense work ethic is further bolstered by his position as a leader in the community.
This season, Strickland has participated in a wide variety of community events ranging from a Santa Clara build for Habitat-for-Humanity, boxing food for homeless families with San Francisco Food Bank, and more. In 2007, he supported a Black History Month event at the Museum of the African Diaspora, built bikes for low-income youth, helped revamp a community center in the Bayview/Hunter's Point district of San Francisco and made numerous additional appearances. Strickland also has his own Foundation, the Donald Strickland Foundation.
Coach Andre K. Hunt of the Coyote Creek Youth Sports Pop Warner program was chosen as the Unity Award winner in the youth football coach category. Hunt helped found the program in 1990 and has been its president since its inception. In addition to his leadership with Coyote Creek, Hunt is also the founder of the Coyote Creek National Junior Basketball program at Oak Grove High School, serving youth from 1st grade through high school. He also coached baseball with the San Jose Police Activities League from 1989 – 1994. During the summer of 2005, Hunt and his wife and their two teenage children, Torrienne and Tristine, were involved in a tragic auto accident. Both children perished as a result of the accident and Hunt and his wife spent a year recovering from their injuries. Hunt then returned to the football field and basketball court to resume his coaching duties and remains committed to supporting youth sports in memory of his children.
Abraham's Vision, founded in 2003, is a conflict transformation organization that explores group and individual identities through experiential and political education. Examining social relations within and between the Jewish, Muslim, Israeli, and Palestinian communities, Abraham's Vision empowers participants to practice just alternatives to the status quo. The two programs that they will be expanding with the funding from the Perry/Yonamine Unity Award include the Unity Program and the Vision Program. The Unity Award was accepted by Aaron J. Hahn Tapper, PhD., the Co-Executive Director and Founder of Abraham's Vision.
The Unity Award for the 49ers player is decided upon by 49ers coaches and executives. The 49ers Community Relations staff reviews the applications for the youth football coach, and the 49ers Community Advisory Panel reviews applications submitted for the non-profit agency.