For some individuals, the joys of supporting a cause they believe in is all the reward one needs. Of course, that doesn't mean these individuals can't be honored for their efforts.
This was the very case that former Miami Dolphins center (and legend) Dwight Stephenson and his wife Dinah found themselves in, as they were honored by the Broward Education Foundation on Saturday Evening.
This Black and White Gala has been going on for twenty years now, and for that night, it was celebrating thirty-two years of educational excellence. There was dinner, dancing, and bad teacher jokes that made people cringe courtesy of Steve Shapiro, who was the EMCEE for the event that night.
But besides being a way to honor valued supporters of the Broward County School Board, it is also known as one of its biggest fundraisers, as a silent auction was held featuring items of all kinds, ranging from jewelry, to paintings, and even signed Miami Dolphins memoribilia, including a football and Dolphins-themed construction helmet signed by Dwight Stephenson himself.
The CEO of the Broward Education Foundation, Thomas Severino, spoke highly of Stephenson and his family when he went to the podium to present them with their plaque, and also during the time I had to speak with him about Stephenson's impact on the foundation.
"Dwight and Dinah have been wonderful partners in the work of the foundation. So many times in life you meet folks who have a sympathetic vibration to your mission. the passion that Dwight and Dinah have for helping to build communities by helping families and children to achieve success is very much like our mission."
The mission, according to Severino, is to raise funds for three essential programs.
"We provide funds for innovative teaching, tools for schools Broward, which is school supplies for children in Title One schools, which is for the free and reduced lunch kids, and we also provide scholarships." said Severino. "And we do that because we go out into the community - these folks that you see around us - and we ask them to get involved in helping students in the Broward County Public Schools achieve success."
I also had a chance to speak to Dwight Stephenson himself, and he echoed similar sentiments about the foundation, and why he felt it was so important that he give his support.
"We're big believers in education, and that's one of the things that this organization right here stresses."
Stephenson also has his own foundation that was created in 2007, and ever since then he's been supporting several different charities and foundations - which of course includes the Broward Education Foundation - through his success as a businessman, as he owns his own construction company. His own contributions to education include the creation of the Computer for Kids Program, which is meant to ensure that every child has a computer to help them along in their education.
Stephenson mentioned during his time at the podium after receiving the award that some players would retire from football and move away from Florida once their time in the NFL was complete, but for him and his wife, they decided that Florida was the place they wanted to be.
It's heartwarming to know that even if his time playing in the league has been over for a long time, Stephenson fell in love with Florida during his time with the Dolphins, and it's translated into something that was most definitely worth honoring.
Needless to say, Stephenson is more than deserving of his place on the Dolphins Ring of Fame, and now he can add the "Community Dream Catcher Award" to his surely impressive trophy case. But what's even more impressive is the dedication Stephenson has shown over the years, and through his support and the support of the others who were honored that night, there are many kids who can give thanks for their success in their educational endeavors.
This story was written by Luis Sung. Follow him on Twitter: @FLSportDebater