Willis will receive the Foundation’s “Chairman’s Award,” bestowed by one of the nation’s leading conservation organizations. Willis, an avid outdoorsman, always has been concerned with conservation issues and is deeply committed to the goals of continuously improving the environment. The award recognizes Willis’ strong voice in support of the conservation of America’s natural resources. Willis will receive the award in person at the event. Past recipients of the Chairman’s Award have included former presidents Jimmy Carter and Ronald Reagan as well as actor Clint Eastwood.
“We want to thank Mr. Willis for his dedication to conservation and his love of the outdoors,” said John Berry, executive director at the Foundation. “His involvement sends a message that everyone should be involved in the stewardship of America’s fish and wildlife.”
ESPN Outdoors and Foundation Celebrating the Great Outdoors
For six years, the Foundation has celebrated the great outdoors at ESPN’s Great Outdoor Games, a 4-day televised event which has included fly fishing, big air dogs, archery and timber sports. This is the second year the two organizations have held a joint event to raise funds for the Foundation. Proceeds will help the Foundation continue to conserve fish, wildlife and plants, and the habitats on which they depend.
“Conservation is an enormous priority for ESPN Outdoors because we recognize that healthy natural resources are not only critical to outdoor sports and outdoors enthusiasts but to the well-being of this country,” said Christine Godleski, vice president and general manager, ESPN Outdoors. “We believe Mr. Willis has a commanding respect for the outdoors and delivers that message whenever possible. With such events as ESPN’s Great Outdoor Games, the CITGO Bassmaster Classic, our programming on ESPN2, our publications and the efforts of our BASS Federations, we support the Foundation’s continued promotion of conservation awareness and ongoing improvement of the natural resources.”
ESPN’s Dan Patrick will serve as host at the casual blue jeans event. Guests will have an opportunity to participate in archery, fly casting, log rolling and other outdoor activities. ESPN Outdoors personalities including Jose Wejebe, host of “The Spanish Fly,” “Offshore Adventures” co-hosts Chris and Melissa Fischer, and international fly-fishing guide and outfitter Cindy Garrison will attend and participate in a raffle and auction of fishing adventure trips. A fully loaded Lexus RX 400h – the world’s first luxury hybrid SUV, donated by Toyota – will be auctioned live at the event. The evening will end with a fireworks display.
Since its inception in 2001, ESPN Outdoors has strived to inform and entertain anglers, hunters, campers and people of all ages who enjoy the outdoors. ESPN Outdoors is committed to increasing awareness of and participation in outdoor activities, a direction best exemplified by daily television programming totaling nearly 1,000 hours annually on ESPN and ESPN2.
Each year, ESPN Outdoors stages more than 30 marquee events including the CITGO Bassmaster Classic and the ESPN Great Outdoor Games. ESPN Outdoors includes BASS, the worldwide authority on bass fishing that sanctions more than 20,000 events through the BASS Federation. ESPN Outdoors also features Bassmaster.com, ESPNOutdoors.com, a weekly outdoors show on ESPN Radio, programming on ESPN2 as well as a growing array of promotions and activities that deliver a clear message of conservation and ethical sportsmanship.
The National Fish and Wildlife Foundation is a nonprofit organization established by Congress in 1984 and dedicated to the conservation of fish, wildlife and plants, and the habitat on which they depend. The Foundation creates partnerships between the public and private sectors to strategically invest in conservation and the sustainable use of natural resources. The Foundation awarded over 7,000 grants to more than 2,600 organizations in the United States and abroad and has leveraged – with its partners – more than $350 million in federal funds since its establishment, for a total of more than $1 billion in on-the-ground conservation action.