(NewDesignWorld Press Center) - One of the NFL's primary military partners is the Pat Tillman Foundation, an organization dedicated to supporting educational opportunities for veterans and their families.
In 2002, Pat Tillman walked away from a $3.6 million contract with the Arizona Cardinals to enlist in the U.S. Army. Following his death in April 2004, while serving with the U.S. Army’s 75th Ranger Regiment in Afghanistan, his family and friends established the Pat Tillman Foundation. Created to honor Pat’s legacy, by inspiring others to create their own, the mission of the Pat Tillman Foundation is to invest in military veterans and their spouses through educational scholarships; building a diverse community of leaders committed to service to others.
Inspired by Pat’s attributes of leadership, passion for education and spirit of service, the Foundation annually awards scholarships through the Tillman Military Scholars program. In 2010, the NFL and the Pat Tillman Foundation established the NFL-Tillman Military Scholarship which annually recognizes an individual who exemplifies Pat Tillman's enduring legacy of service. The scholarship is part of the Tillman Military Scholars program available to veterans, active service members, and dependents and survivors of service members from all branches of the U.S. military who wish to start, finish, or further their education.
Retired Navy Petty Officer Third Class D’Onior Felton stands on the sideline during pregame warmups prior to being recognized as the second annual NFL-Tillman Military Scholarship recipient at FedEx Field.
Retired Navy Petty Officer Third Class D’Onior Felton stands on the sideline during pregame warmups prior to being recognized as the second annual NFL-Tillman Military Scholarship recipient at FedEx Field. (National Football League)
In November 2011, the NFL and the Pat Tillman Foundation named retired Navy Petty Officer Third Class D’Onior Felton of Clarksdale, MS, as its second annual recipient of the NFL-Tillman Military Scholarship program. Felton, who is currently a medical student at George Washington University, earned her undergraduate degree at the University of Maryland while serving on active duty. It was while serving as a Navy surgical technologist that D’Onior’s interest in the medical field turned into her life’s passion.
“D’Onior’s military experience and training opened her eyes to a career she had never really considered,” said Marie Tillman, Chair and President of the Pat Tillman Foundation. “As a doctor, she wants to provide health care to underserved communities in the southern U.S. and through her career in public health, carry on Pat’s legacy of leadership and service. It’s an honor to recognize her as this year’s NFL-Tillman Military Scholar.”
Felton plans to enter pediatric or emergency medicine for her residency, with a focus on infectious disease. Her aim is to eventually practice medicine in a medically underserved community of the U.S. while also working with a community health care center near to her home state of Mississippi.
“We are pleased to continue our work with the Tillman Foundation on the NFL-Tillman Military Scholar program,” said NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell. “Pat Tillman means so much to the NFL family, and we congratulate D’Onior on receiving this year’s honor.”
The foundation's Tillman Military Scholars program covers not only direct study related expenses such as tuition, fees, and books, but also other needs such as room and board and child care. There are currently 171 Tillman Military Scholars pursuing their education at every level, from college freshmen undergraduates to doctoral candidates. All 171 of the Tillman Scholars are connected by their desire to improve their own lives while continuing to serve others.
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