SAN JOSE, Calif. – San Jose Earthquakes forward Chris Wondolowski was named a finalist for MLS W.O.R.K.S. Humanitarian of the Year on Monday for his charitable work in the Bay Area in 2011. He is up against former teammate Brad Davis of the Houston Dynamo and Zak Boggs of the New England Revolution.
Wondolowski won San Jose’s version of the Humanitarian of the Year Award, the Andrew Bedard “Spirit of the Game” Award, during the Soccer Silicon Valley Community Foundation Banquet on Nov. 19. Named after a young Quakes fan who passed away in 2004 at the age of 8, the award is given each year to an Earthquakes player who takes an active and prominent role in supporting the Bay Area soccer community.
“It’s an honor to be nominated for this award along with Brad (Davis) and Zak (Boggs),” Wondolowski said. “Having grown up in the Bay Area, I take pride in our community and I’m excited for every opportunity I get to give back.”
Most recently, Wondolowski joined the Movember movement to help raise awareness for men’s health issues. During November, he will grow a mustache along with club ambassador Kelly Gray in support of the program. To make a donation or track Wondolowski’s progress, fans can visit www.mobro.co/wondo. All proceeds will benefit the Prostate Cancer Foundation and LIVESTRONG, the Lance Armstrong Foundation.
After winning the 2010 Budweiser Golden Boot, Wondolowski pledged to donate $50 for every goal he scored in 2011 to Street Soccer USA. With a program in San Francisco, Street Soccer USA works with the homeless in 20 cities across the country and 75 percent of participants connect to jobs, housing or further education within a year of play. The program builds community and trust through soccer while empowering participants to set goals and transform their lives.
In addition to his work with SSUSA, Wondolowski took a lead role during the club's A&W Root Beer Float Night on July 30 at Buck Shaw Stadium. The event drew hundreds of Quakes fans and earned $5,000 for the ALS Association and the American Red Cross. He was also a regular at club appearances for Amway Kicks for Kids, Get Earthquakes Fit presented by Kaiser Permanente and a number of other local events.
Wondo's commitment to the community also includes match days where Quakes fans at Autograph Alley following the final whistle can find MLS's top goal scorer signing well into the night.
The only other Earthquakes player to win MLS W.O.R.K.S. Humanitarian of the Year is Abdul Thompson Conteh in 2000. Aside from leading the Quakes in scoring with eight goals and three assists that year, Conteh partnered with the club and the Santa Clara chapter of the American Red Cross to raise funds to provide aid for Sierra Leone. The West African striker was a vocal advocate for change in his native country having lost 20 family members during a lengthy civil war over the country’s lucrative diamond trade.
Last year, Earthquakes center back Jason Hernandez was a finalist for the award.
The MLS W.O.R.K.S. Humanitarian of the Year winner will be announced on Wednesday, Nov. 9 based on voting by current MLS players, select representatives from MLS clubs and members of the media who regularly covered MLS during the 2011 season.