When Greg Olsen was named runner up as the Walter Payton Man of the Year on the eve of the Super Bowl, he did more than make all of the Carolinas proud. He also earned $250,000 in charitable funds – $125,000 for Receptions for Research: The Greg Olsen Foundation, and $125,000 to expand United Way’s Character Playbook initiative with the Carolina Panthers.


On Monday, United Way of Central Carolinas executive director Sean Garrett presented Olsen with Receptions for Research’s portion of that award at Olsen’s charity golf tournament benefitting the HEARTest Yard, which supports families of babies affected by congenital heart disease; Receptions for Research’s other program, Receiving Hope, helps those battling cancer.


“Greg and Kara Olsen’s selflessness to turn their son’s heart defect and his mother’s breast cancer into an opportunity to help countless other families speaks to their remarkable character,” said Garrett. “Greg is an incredible ambassador for the Carolina Panthers and our community as a whole, so we’re proud that United Way’s national partnership with the NFL could help expand his foundation’s work here locally.”


The $250,000 in Walter Payton Man of the Year funds are courtesy of the NFL Foundation, Nationwide and United Way Worldwide. The other $125,000 supports local expansion of Character Playbook, a national partnership between the NFL Foundation and United Way that focuses on youth character development and healthy relationships during students’ critical middle school years.


Launched in the Charlotte region in August 2016 by the Carolina Panthers and United Way of Central Carolinas, Character Playbook will now expand into other Carolinas markets thanks to Olsen’s recognition.


Supported nationally by United Way, the Walter Payton NFL Man of the Year program is the only NFL award that recognizes a player for his community service as well as his excellence on the field. Carolina Panthers linebacker Thomas Davis won the honor two years earlier.