Each season, all of the 32 NFL Clubs select a player from their roster, who exemplifies a commitment to sportsmanship and courage, as the recipient of the Ed Block Courage Award. Ed Block, the former head athletic trainer of the Baltimore Colts who served the team for 23 years, was a pioneer in his profession and a respected humanitarian whose most passionate cause was helping children of abuse.
To honor Ed Block's legacy and bring further awareness to the prevalence and need to eradicate family violence, past award recipients from the 49ers visited Edgewood Center for Children and Families on Saturday, November 7, as a part of the team's Alumni Weekend celebration. Alumni attending included WR Mike Wilson who was joined by fellow past Ed Block Courage Award Winners and 49ers Alumni C Eric Heitmann, G Guy McIntyre, OL Jesse Sapolu, CB Shawntae Spencer, and CB Eric Wright.
The Ed Block Courage Award is not simply a plaque or accolade awarded to NFL players, it is a platform used to continue Block's philanthropic work. In each NFL market, a facility that provides support and quality care for abused children and their families is chosen as a Courage House. The 49ers dedicated Edgewood House in San Francisco as their Courage House in October 2003 in alignment with the 49ers Foundation mission to keep kids "Safe, On Track, and In School."
"We specialize in helping kids who have emotional and behavioral health needs," said Edgewood's chief medical officer Robin Randall. "These are kids who are really stressed out or are having emotional problems and difficult times in their lives. Many have experienced a lot of trauma and been through really adverse circumstances. At Edgewood, we provide them the supports they need to in order to return to their families, schools, and communities. "
"Today was a very nice day," said 49ers Alumnus Mike Wilson. "We came to the Edgewood House and it was an opportunity for us to spend time with the kids, encourage them about life goals and achievements. It was just a great honor and I was glad to be here."
Focusing on providing tools for youth to manage their stress, the award winners worked with youth who participate in the in-patient and out-patient services and counseling on three projects – a RESPECT banner, painting picture frames as art therapy and PLAY 60 fitness drills. Additionally, the 49ers Foundation surprised Edgewood with a $25,000 donation and an opportunity for on-field recognition when the team hosted the Atlanta Falcons on Sunday, November 8.
"We have wonderful activities that allow kids to engage with players," said Edgewood corporate and community engagement manager Kristin Thomas. "But [this event] will have a lasting effect on them because it shows how the community cares."