Harry Carson is a Super Bowl champion and Pro Football Hall of Famer who told guests at the 83rd annual CYO Club of Champions Tribute June 6 that his greatest accomplishment is making a difference in people’s lives.
“This evening and this award is not about me. On the contrary, it is really about all of you and your generosity of being here this evening to support programs of the Catholic Youth Organization,” said Carson, the recipient of the John V. Mara Sportsman of the Year Award at the Manhattan dinner.
“You may not know it now, but five, 10, 20 years from now, many of those young people currently in the CYO programs will thank you for making a difference in their lives.
“I’ve been a world champion and have accomplished a lot, but to me there is nothing better than making a difference in the lives of others. That is really the greatest award.”
Gold Medal Award winner John Buran, who is president and CEO of Flushing Financial Corporation and Flushing Bank, joined Carson at the dinner, raised $280,000 for CYO. John Chandler, weekend television sports anchor for WNBC, served as master of ceremonies. The event, which attracted 215 guests, included talks from Cardinal Dolan; Msgr. Kevin Sullivan, executive director of Catholic Charities; and John Mara, co-owner of the New York Giants.
Mara presented the award named after his uncle to the former captain, who played 13 seasons with the Giants and was selected to nine Pro Bowls. Carson is a panelist on the Madison Square Garden Network’s “Giants 1st and 10.”
“Harry Carson, for me and most Giants fans, embodies all the qualities of the sportsman and a leader,” Mara said.
“Harry was the captain of our 1986 Super Bowl team. I still have this vision before the game waiting for the coin toss. The Denver Broncos sent out five or six captains. We sent out one, Harry Carson, and that’s all we needed because Harry went out to lead us to our first Super Bowl title.”
Carson has given time to many charitable organizations such as the United Way, Boys & Girls Clubs of America, Boy Scouts of America and Habitat for Humanity. He founded Minority Athletes Networking with former Giants teammates George Martin and the late Ron Johnson to serve as positive role models in young people’s lives.
“I thank the Giants for giving me the platform to make a difference in the lives of others,” Carson said.
Buran, who has devoted time to charitable and nonprofit organizations, has seen Flushing Bank’s total assets grow substantially during his time as president and CEO. He grew up participating with friends in the CYO program at Holy Cross parish in the Bronx.
“The Catholic Youth Organization plays an important role in our communities as it focuses on building character through spiritually based athletic, cultural and volunteer activities,” Buran said. “CYO is best known for its comprehensive program of athletic activities for youth. However, I’m particularly impressed by the wide range of programs CYO offers outside of the traditional athletic programs, including art and essay contests scouting and theater.”
Seth Peluso, director of Catholic Charities’ CYO division, told CNY the evening offers a great opportunity for CYO to honor individuals and raise funds to help achieve its mission. CYO athletic teams registered more than 26,000 participants and had more than 3,000 volunteers at over 150 parishes and schools in the archdiocese this past year.
“We’re looking to continue our mission and bring in new opportunities for the kids,” Peluso told CNY. “We’re looking at possibly soccer and girls volleyball, and obviously expanding on the quality of the program we’re offering across all the counties.”