This week, National Football League wide receiver Brandon Marshall, accepted a $50,000 donation from The NFL and the United Way of Essex and West Hudson to benefit his charity, Project 375.

New York Jets director of community relations, Jesse Linder, United Way Worldwide director of NFL partnership, Tracey Howard Holmes, and United Way of Essex and West Hudson president and CEO, Catherine Wilson, were all present to give their congratulations and bestow the gift.

The donation came in conjunction with the prestigious NFL Walter Payton Man of the Year award, which recognizes players for their community service and athletic performance. The New York Jets selected Marshall as their team’s 2016 nominee for the national title.

“I’m honored to have been selected as the 2016 Man of the Year for the New York Jets,” said Brandon Marshall, 2016 Walter Payton Man of the Year for the New York Jets. “Project 375 is incredibly important to me and to the millions of Americans of all ages who live with mental health concerns. This donation will help change lives and end the stigma, and the matching one for Character Playbook will help empower the next generation to be compassionate.”

In 2011, Marshall was diagnosed with borderline personality disorder, and spent three months at McLean Hospital in Boston, Mass. for treatment, but had to grapple with the stigma around his diagnosis in the public eye. Marshall and his wife Michi Marshall, who holds several behavioral science degrees and certifications, founded Project 375 to tackle that stigma and address mental health illness. The organization provides professional development for educators and youth workers, mental health workshops for teens, funds and resources for treatment and support programs, and media coverage to build awareness. Last year, Brandon spoke to more than 3,000 students across the country, and will provide Youth Mental Health First Aid training to teachers and staff at more than 10 high schools in Brooklyn, New York.

“United Way is proud to partner with the National Football League and the New York Jets to celebrate Brandon Marshall for his service to others and dedication to the community,” said Tracey Holmes, director of NFL & strategic partnerships for United Way Worldwide. “Brandon’s ability to use his personal challenges to strengthen others speaks directly to his character. We look forward to continued opportunities with Brandon to inspire character and community service in young people throughout the nation.”

Marshall’s honor also comes with an additional $50,000 in funding to the New York Jets/United Way of Essex & West Hudson chapter of Character Playbook, a digital education program from United Way Worldwide and the NFL that teaches middle school students to cultivate healthy relationships. This funding is currently covering Essex & West Hudson local schools; schools and community organizations in all 32 NFL team markets can implement Character Playbook via their local United Way chapter. This national curriculum was created in partnership with EVERFI in 2016; Verizon is also a sponsor of the New York Jets chapter.

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