Hall of Fame NFL coach and founder and chairman of Youth For Tomorrow Joe Gibbs on Wednesday was presented a Lifetime Achievement award at the 25th annual Burgundy and Gold Banquet.
Gibbs was recognized for for his dedication and service to teenagers in need in the Washington, D.C., area.
Gibbs founded Youth For Tomorrow in 1986 to give children who have been abandoned by their families, are homeless, were expelled from school or need therapeutic intervention to address their issues.
Youth For Tomorrow has touched the lives of more than 1,000 boys and girls between the ages 12-18 by providing safe residence and care.
Several headliners came out to share stories about Gibbs and show their appreciation of his efforts Wednesday evening, including several of his former players, Redskins owner Dan Snyder, Youth For Tomorrow CEO Dr. Gary Jones, Washington Redskins head coach Jay Gruden, his brother — ESPN Monday Night Football analyst — Jon Gruden, Interstate Batteries Chairman Norm Miller and former Youth For Tomorrow boys and girls.
The night began with Marc Anderson, chairman of the Burgundy and Gold Banquet, introducing sponsors to include the Washington Redskins Charitable Foundation and local politicians.
After the check presentation, former residents of Youth For Tomorrow gave testimonies describing the impact the organization had on their lives.
Jovan Delgado came to Youth For Tomorrow in 2001 at the age of 16, looking to find a solution to stopping his drug and gang activity. He found it in the care of the professional staff, Gibbs, Dr. Jones and Snyder.
“I want to thank you for giving this street kid a different path,” he said. “I am a different man now, because you invested in me.”
A seven-minute video played after highlighting Gibbs’ philanthropic efforts and his greatest moments as head coach of the Washington Redskins, followed by representatives from different organizations providing admiration for Gibbs' efforts in upholding Youth For Tomorrow’s mission.
“Look at the pillars of his achievements,” Jones said. “There are a few hallmarks of our success just like there are for Joe’s success. One of those is volunteerism. We have 38 members of our distinguished board of trustees. They are supported by over 300 volunteers during the year. And you can look at private philanthropy. We’ve balanced our budget 16 of the last 17 years because of private philanthropy for Youth For Tomorrow. It takes private philanthropy to supplement whatever we do.
“[Also], our professional staff. We can’t do what we do without our trained professional staff.”
Miller, who linked up with Gibbs in 1991 when he entered NASCAR as a team owner, echoed Jones sentiments, pointing to the success stories told by some of the former members of Youth For Tomorrow.
“To see these kids tonight it’s a tremendous honor to be able to share [this] and be a part of it,” Miller said. “When we hooked up with Joe, we had no intention at all about getting involved in the youth home in Northern Virginia. But we have for a number of years and Joe presented this opportunity and gave us a chance to have a piece of the action.
“So to see all these young people that have gone through Youth For Tomorrow, and have been helped and loved and blessed. They’re not just names.”
“I know Joe very, very well, and everyone always says ‘What’s Joe like?’” Snyder said. “I say Hall of Fame football coach and a spectacular man. What Joe is, more importantly than NASCAR, more importantly than the NFL, is Joe is a Hall of Fame man.
“Joe is someone you can lean on as a person. He’s an intimate, passionate man that cares, and is so involved in making sure that he’s touching lives.”
While Wednesday evening was about the community honoring Gibbs, the former coached turned the tables, thanking the "greatest community in the world" for its support of Youth For Tomorrow.
“The first thing I felt, Pat [his wife] and I, and my thought the whole time was we should do,” Gibbs said. “The Gibbs family should be the one saying thanks to all of you.”
The 1996 NFL Hall of Fame inductee also thanked the Washington Redskins for giving him an opportunity. The breakthrough gave him the resources necessary to create Youth For Tomorrow.
He told a story of one of the first attendees of Youth For Tomorrow was illiterate when he arrived, but left with the ability to read several other skills he took with him after leaving.
“One big guy came up to me with tears coming out of his eyes,” Gibbs said. “And he said ‘I wouldn’t be here if I could read.’ I thought about that. Here is a young person who slipped through the cracks over the years and really lost the ability to compete. He said ‘I can’t even fill out an application to work. I want to work. I have to bring the application home.’"
Gibbs also wanted to thank the boys and girls that have attended Youth For Tomorrow and overcame their struggles.
“Kids like this that were up here tonight that have such courage — that’s not easy,” Gibbs said. “For these young people to get up and say ‘I want to make something of myself;' that’s important.”
Gibbs closed by explaining the value he places on service.
“In the end, the most important thing we’re going to learn is the influence we’re going to have on others. That’s what we’re going to do: serve.”
For more about all of the work Youth for Tomorrow does, visit their website at www.youthfortomorrow.org.