NEW YORK -- Olympic speedskating champion Joey Cheek did
some football poses after learning he would receive the inaugural
Heisman Humanitarian Award for his efforts to help refugees in
The Heisman Trophy Trust will honor Cheek at a Dec. 11 dinner in
New York, two days after its namesake award is given to the
nation's top college football player.
"Even though I am a speedskater, and this is a humanitarian
award, I cannot lie," Cheek said. "When I heard I would be
receiving it, I did some Heisman poses around my living room."
After winning gold and silver medals at the Torino Olympics this
year, Cheek donated all of his performance bonuses -- a total of
$40,000 -- to Right To Play, a humanitarian organization founded by
another Olympic champion, Johann Olav Koss.
Cheek earmarked his money for refugees in Darfur, a region in
the African nation of Sudan. Three years of fighting between
government and rebel forces have caused the deaths of more than
200,000 people and forced some 2.5 million from their homes.
Cheek was chosen to carry the U.S. flag at the closing
ceremonies in Torino, and his donations helped generate more than
$500,000 in aid for victims in Darfur. He has since retired from
skating and founded his own nonprofit organization, Where Will We
The Heisman Trophy Trust will make a $25,000 donation in Cheek's
name to Right To Play.
"Every time I receive a blessing, I look at it as an incredible
opportunity to help someone else," said Cheek, who plans to study
economics at Princeton beginning in the fall of 2007. "This award
is a huge honor, but even more important is the chance it gives me
to speak out for those with no voice."