Connecticut Sun center and former UConn star Tina Charles has been named the winner of the WNBA's Dawn Staley Community Leadership Award. Charles will be recognized for earning the honor at tonight's game against the Los Angeles Sparks with WNBA President Laurel Richie on hand to present Charles with the award.
The 2010 WNBA Rookie of the Year center Tina Charles of the Connecticut Sun is the recipient of the Dawn Staley Community Leadership Award in recognition of her outstanding work in the community in 2011, the league announced today. The award recognizes the player who best exemplifies the characteristics of a leader in the community and reflects Staley’s leadership, spirit, charitable efforts, and love for the game.
"Tina Charles is the personification of the WNBA's mission to inspire others both on and off the basketball court," said WNBA President Laurel J. Richie. "Tina is not only an outstanding athlete, but a generous giver who funded the full cost of an elementary school in Western Africa. We are so proud of her accomplishments.”
The Dawn Staley Community Leadership Award is presented annually. Each WNBA team nominated one player and a designated committee selected Charles as the winner. The WNBA will make a $10,000 donation to the Sickle Cell Disease Association of America on behalf of Charles.
"I continue to be impressed by the foresight and generosity of the women of the WNBA,” said WNBA Legend and University of South Carolina Head Coach Dawn Staley. “Tina's contribution for a tremendous need in Mali will assure that community has a bright future. I am so proud to be associated with her and community efforts."
Wanting to make an impact in the world, Charles’ partnered with OmniPeace and buildOn to construct a new school in Mali, a land-locked country in Western Africa. The elementary school is located in the Sikasso Region of Mali and will be used during the day to give a new generation of underprivileged children a chance of receiving an education and will be used in the evenings for adult literacy classes. In addition, Charles remains actively involved with the organization and continues to help end violence against African women, educate children and continue to fight gender discrimination in Mali.
"I am so honored to receive the Dawn Staley Community Leadership Award,” Charles said. “Because of what it stands for, and also because of the other players who have been recognized with this award, it will always be a highlight of my basketball career. I have known for a long time that I wanted to give back, and my experience helping to build a school in Mali has inspired me to continue seeking new ways to help those in need. When my professional basketball career is finished, I hope I will have made as much of an impact off the court as on it.”