Evan Lysacek to receive Thurman Munson Award

Press release

NEW YORK — Olympic Gold Medal winning men’s figure skater Evan Lysacek, the first American to capture the single’s crown since 1988, will be honored with the prestigious Thurman Munson Award at the 31st annual Thurman Munson Awards Dinner on Tuesday night, February 1, at the Grand Hyatt Hotel in New York City, it was announced today. The USA’s surprise hero of the 2010 Vancouver Olympic Games will join an impressive trio of New York baseball stars, Yankees All-Star outfielder Nick Swisher, Mets centerfielder Angel Pagan, former Mets All-Star catcher Mike Piazza, and New Jersey Nets All-Star Devin Harris as the “Class of 2011.” The gala benefits the AHRC-New York City Foundation, and remembers the late, great Yankees catcher and captain.

For tickets and information on the Munson Awards Dinner contact 212-249-6188.

Diana Munson, Thurman’s widow, will attend the gala, and has been involved in the benefit since its inception, raising nearly $10 million to assist children and adults who have intellectual and developmental disabilities.

The AHRC New York City Foundation is a not-for-profit organization that supports programs enabling children and adults with intellectual and developmental disabilities to lead richer, more productive lives, including programs of AHRC New York City. AHRC New York City is one of the largest organizations of its kind, serving 11,000 children and adults who have intellectual and developmental disabilities, including autism, cerebral palsy, traumatic brain injuries and other disabilities.

Lysacek, 25, became an unexpected hero the USA’s 2010 Vancouver Olympics, winning a gold medal in the men’s singles figure skating competition, upending the favored Evgeni Plushenko of Russia. After placing second in the short program, Lysacek won the free skate program with a score of 167.37, surpassing Plushenko to take the gold. The Illinois native became the USA’s first man to win in this category since Brian Boitano in 1988. In his only other Olympic appearance, he had just missed the podium, finishing fourth at the 2006 Games in Turin, Italy. He is a member of the board of Figure Skating in Harlem, which teaches girls academic and life skills through ice skating, and serves on the celebrity board of Ronald McDonald House Charities, which aims to improve the health and well-being of children.

Lysacek also placed first in the 2008-09 World Championships, and won back-to-back U.S. World Titles in 2006-07 and 2008-09. He also holds two titles in the Four Continents Championships, and one apiece in the Grand Prix Finals, Skate America, and the Cup of China. Lysacek currently holds the No. 1 ranking in the world by the International Skating Union, an honor he gained in April of 2010.

The list of notable athletes to previously receive the Munson Award reads like a sports “Who’s Who,” and includes: Olympians – Donna de Varona (swimming), Dorothy Hamill (figure-skating), Paul Hamm (gymnast), Kristi Yamaguchi (figure skating), Nancy Kerrigan (figure skating), Carl Lewis (track and field), Carly Patterson (gymnast), and Dwight Stones (men’s high jump); Yankees – Yogi Berra, Don Mattingly, Mariano Rivera, Willie Randolph, Alex Rodriguez, Jorge Posada, Robby Cano, Bernie Williams, Bobby Murcer, Joe Torre and Joe Girardi; Mets – Tom Seaver, John Franco, Darryl Strawberry, Ron Darling, David Wright, Carlos Beltran, Keith Hernandez, Rusty Staub and Gary Carter; Basketball – Willis Reed, Oscar Robertson, Jason Kidd, Dave DeBusschere, Patrick Ewing, Walt Frazier, Earl Monroe, Mark Jackson, Charles Oakley, Allan Houston and John Starks.

Swisher, 30, who helped lead the Yankees to the 2009 World Series title, enjoyed his first All-Star season in 2010, hitting .288 with 29 home runs and 89 RBI as the club’s primary right fielder. Among his many charitable endeavors, he established the Nick Swisher Foundation “Swish’s Wishes” in 2007 to assist children with life-threatening illnesses and to help lift the spirits of kids going through difficult times. In 2009, Swisher provided Christmas dinner for the families of children battling cancer at the Ronald McDonald House in New York and was the co-Ambassador to the Entertainment Industry Foundation’s Lee Denim Day to help raise money for breast cancer research.

Piazza, 42, may have been the top offensive catcher of all time. A .308 career hitter with 427 home runs and 1,335 RBIs, Piazza played for 16 seasons, including an eight-year stretch with the New York Mets following a three-team trade from the Dodgers via the Marlins. The 1993 Rookie of the Year, and a 12-time National League All Star selection, Piazza was peerless amongst catchers with the bat during his career, and the Norristown, Pennsylvania native is the all-time leader in homers for a backstop. In a career filled with big home runs, Piazza’s most memorable long-ball was a go-ahead two-run shot off of Atlanta Braves’ reliever Steve Karsay in the first game back in New York following the 9/11 terrorist attacks. The popular Met also contributed to the team’s 2000 World Series appearance by hitting 2 key homers in wins over the St. Louis Cardinals in the NLCS. Piazza participates in Michael Jordan’s Make-A-Wish charity golf and softball events, and has worked closely with Drug Abuse Resistance Education (D.A.R.E.).

Pagan, 29, is a rising star with the New York Mets, with the 2010 season rating as his strongest to date during a five-year career. An outstanding fielder, Pagan made strides with the bat last season, setting career highs in hits (168), runs scored (80), home runs (11), RBI (69),and stolen bases (37). The native of Puerto Rico was originally drafted by the Mets in 1999, but reached the majors for the first time in 2006 with the Chicago Cubs. Pagan made an impact off the field for the Mets in 2010, and was the Mets nominee for the 2010 Roberto Clemente Award. He was one of the first Mets to participate in the June “Teammates in the Community Week,” planting new trees in community gardens in Spanish Harlem. Pagan also proudly supports City Harvest, food and rescue organization dedicated to feeding New York City’s hungry men, women and children. He hit the streets of Manhattan this year to raise awareness for City Harvest’s Skip Lunch Fight Hunger campaign and has visited Hour Children Food Pantry in Long Island City to help distribute more than 1,000 pounds of food to needy families during the busy holiday season.

Harris, 27, has become the Nets’ on court and off the court leader since his arrival to New Jersey in a blockbuster trade during the 2007-08 season. During his first full year with the team, Harris established new career highs in points-per-game (21.3) and assists-per-game (6.9) en route to his first All Star selection. The former University of Wisconsin star was drafted in the 1st round by the Dallas Mavericks, and came to the Nets in the Jason Kidd trade. The 2009 NBA All-Star will be cited for his on court excellence and community service, which include his and the Nets donation to the “Eric LeGrand Believe Fund” in an effort to raise funds and awareness of the injured Rutgers football player’s injury, through Devin’s “34 Ways to Assist Foundation.”

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Photo courtesy of Leah Adams

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