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Travis Kelce wins Walter Payton Man of the Year fan vote

After receiving the most votes, Chiefs tight end Travis Kelce has won the Walter Payton Man of the Year Fan Challenge.

One of the NFL’s highest individual honors, it recognizes an NFL player for outstanding community service activities off the field, as well as excellence on the field. Kelce is joined by 31 other candidates – one from each NFL team – who were also announced today.

The NFL released a statement saying: “Congratulations to Travis Kelce who received the most votes in Nationwide’s 6th annual Charity Challenge, a social media campaign designed to support and promote team nominees.”

Kelce was given a $25,000 donation that he can allocate to a charity of his choosing.

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“We are thrilled to have Travis Kelce represent the Chiefs organization and the Kansas City community as our nominee for the Walter Payton NFL Man of the Year Award,” Chiefs Chairman and CEO Clark Hunt said. “From the time he was drafted in 2013, Travis has grown into one of the most dependable and dynamic players in team history – both on and off the football field.

“Travis’ commitment to winning is surpassed only by his enthusiasm for helping young people in Kansas City and his hometown of Cleveland Heights, Ohio. Through his 87 & Running Foundation and his work with Operation Breakthrough, Travis provides disadvantaged youth with the resources they need to discover their personal passions as well as mentoring and motivation to help them be successful. We are very proud to call Travis a member of our Chiefs family, and we believe he is a deserving candidate for this prestigious honor.”

“Being nominated as the Chiefs Walter Payton NFL Man of the Year is one of the greatest honors of my professional career,” Kelce said. “This team and this community have been an incredibly important part of my life for the past eight years, and I’m humbled because there are so many players who are also doing so much to serve others and are deserving of this recognition. The 87 & Running Foundation began to help disadvantaged youth by mentoring and motivating them to explore and develop their abilities and aspire beyond their circumstances. I’m extremely proud of the work we’ve done and want to thank my foundation team for their dedication and the Chiefs for their support of this important work. What I’ve accomplished on the field alongside my teammates over the years – especially last year – means so much more knowing that what has been accomplished off of the field is making a difference in the lives of others here in Kansas City and in my hometown of Cleveland Heights.”

Travis Kelce

Travis Kelce interacts with youngsters as part of his 87 and Running Foundation

The Charity Challenge, determined by fan voting, is a precursor to the NFL’s Walter Payton Man of the Year Award, which is awarded during the NFL Honors ceremony. This year, NFL Honors will take place on February 6, on the eve of Super Bowl LV.

For the third year in a row, all 32 team winners will be highlighted as finalists and recognized for their important work during the weekend leading up to Super Bowl LV.

All 32 nominees will receive a $40,000 donation in their name to their charity of choice. The winner of the Walter Payton NFL Man of the Year Award will receive a $250,000 donation to the charity of his choice. All donations are courtesy of the NFL Foundation and Nationwide. Along with the other 31 nominees, Kelce will wear a Walter Payton NFL Man of the Year helmet decal through the end of the season in recognition of his accomplishments on and off the field.

Since arriving in Kansas City as a third-round draft pick in 2013, Kelce has focused on reaching youth in the communities that are near and dear to him. In 2015, he introduced his 87 & Running Foundation to empower disadvantaged youth to achieve success by providing resources and support to their communities and cultivate their talents in the areas of education, business, athletics, STEM and the arts. To date, Kelce, through the 87 & Running Foundation, has donated $750,000 for various charitable efforts, while another $250,000 is scheduled to be made before the end of this year.

Kelce discussed his nomination for the prestigious award in a press conference with members of the media in December.

“Football is just a game,” Kelce said. “We’re talking about life. To be able to help somebody have a better future, being able to lend a helping hand so somebody has a better situation, that’s making a difference.”

Kelce now hopes to become the NFL-best sixth member of the Chiefs organization to win the Man of the Year award.

Linebacker Willie Lanier (1972), quarterback Len Dawson (1973), linebacker Derrick Thomas (1993), offensive lineman Will Shields (2003) and offensive lineman Brian Waters (2009) are all Chiefs who have won the award.

–Lee Hartman | Metro Voice