Wednesday, December 8, 2010

Denison's Crawford, Wittenberg's O'Rourke Honored for Citizenship

Denison senior Dan Crawford has been selected as one of five finalists for the 7th annual Coach John Wooden Citizenship Cup. The award is presented to the most outstanding role model among college athletes and recognizes athletes who make the greatest difference in the lives of others.

Joining Crawford among the impressive list of finalists are University of Alabama quarterback Greg McElroy, University of Oklahoma defensive back Quinton Carter, Amherst College basketball player Sarah Leyman, and Agnes Scott College basketball player Kimberly Reeves.

The winner of the 2010 Wooden Cup will be announced on January 25, 2011 at the East Lake Golf Club in Atlanta, Ga.

The Wooden Cup is named in honor of John Wooden. Wooden's legacy as a person of integrity, high moral character, compassion, and civic-mindedness continues to make him one of the most revered coaches in the history of sport. The Cup recognizes those athletes whose character represents the highest and best in sport, and who make the greatest difference in the lives of others. Since it is open to all athletes, all sports, it is regarded as the highest award in all of college sports.

Crawford, a co-captain for the Big Red football team in 2010, capped off his career with 433 yards rushing and 242 yards receiving and five total touchdowns this season. Since 2007 he has rushed for 1,404 yards and has scored 16 touchdowns. Crawford is the current president of the Denison Student Athlete Advisory Council and boasts a 3.66 grade point average while majoring in biochemistry.

In November, Crawford was named to the ESPN The Magazine Academic All-District squad and he will represent Denison at the National Football Foundation Hall of Fame Scholar Athlete Awards Banquet in February. He received the 2010 Dale Googins Commitment Award which is given by the athletic department to a student-athlete who best demonstrates a commitment to self discipline and excellence.

In addition to all of the accolades on the field and in the classroom, Crawford has done extensive work in the community. In the fall of 2009 he organized the Salvation Army's Christmas Cheer Adopt-a-Child holiday toy drive, which raised $2,700 to provide gifts for 54 local children. He also established a "Pay it Forward" challenge, named in honor of Denison alum Woody Hayes '35 who coined the phrase "You can never pay back, but you can always pay forward." The challenge issued by Crawford encouraged athletes from all 23 of Denison's varsity teams to become involved with an individual and team-based community service initiative.

Crawford has already received a position with the highly selective "Teach for America" program. He will begin a two-year teaching assignment in the fall of 2011.

Wittenberg senior Conor O’Rourke was named one of 13 semifinalists for the award. O'Rourke, a member of the swim team who is one of the Tigers' top competitors in the butterfly events, began doing volunteer work with orphaned boys in Haiti during his summer vacations as a high school student, and he has continued those efforts during various breaks from studies at Wittenberg. The devastation caused by a 7.0 earthquake in Haiti on Jan. 12, 2010, only increased his motivation, so he organized a fundraising event that became part of the first-ever "Hope For Haiti Weekend" at Wittenberg University less than a month later.

A history major at Wittenberg, O'Rourke organized a concert titled "In Harmony for Haiti" on Feb. 6 that featured performances by Wittenberg a cappella groups Wittmen Crew and Just Eve, a raffle and a T-shirt sale. All proceeds went to CRUDEM-Hopital Sacre Coeur, one of many overwhelmed medical facilities operating in parts of Haiti not directly impacted by the earthquake.

He returned to Haiti in May 2010 to volunteer at CRUDEM-Hopital Sacre Coeur for nearly three months, helping to develop infrastructure for the hospital by installing renewable energy sources to generate the freshwater pumps, and also working alongside physical and occupational therapists who are rehabilitating earthquake victims by building walkers for injured children.

He hasn't limited his efforts to the Haitian people, teaching kindergarten in a small fishing village in the African nation of Ghana in 2006, working with his Wittenberg fraternity to organize a fundraiser for victims of persecution in Darfur in 2008 and raising money for cancer research with his swimming and diving teammates through the annual Ted Mullin Leave it in the Pool, Hour of Power Relay each of the last four years.

Along the way, O'Rourke was voted Most Improved Swimmer by his teammates following the 2007-08 season and Most Dedicated following the 2008-09 season.

The award is presented annually to distinguished athletes that display character, teamwork and citizenship by Athletes for a Better World. The recipient is chosen by a screening committee, a national group of electors, and a committee chaired by Vincent Dooley, former University of Georgia athletic director, and other distinguished individuals involved in athletics across the country.

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