Former NFL quarterback Brian Griese has been awarded the 2011 Patterson Award for Excellence in Sports Philanthropy, presented each year by the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation (RWJF).

The award celebrates and promotes the selfless service of people within the world of sports whose passionate efforts make a difference in the lives around them. Griese, who currently works as a broadcaster for ESPN and KOA-AM in Denver, is being recognized for his work with Judi’s House, a comprehensive grief care center he founded in Denver for children dealing with the loss of a loved one.

Griese founded Judi’s House in 2002 in memory of his mother who died when he was twelve years old. The center helps grieving children and families by offering grief counseling and peer support groups to share the experience of loss with others. Judi’s House increases awareness and knowledge of grieving children’s needs by extending grief support services to schools, community based organizations, faith-based groups, hospices, and other caregivers in the community. Judi’s House has served more than 4,000 children and their adult caregivers from the Denver area since opening.

“I’m honored to receive this recognition in memory of my late mother and on behalf of everyone who works so hard to make Judi’s House a place where no child has to feel alone in grief,” said Griese. “I am proud of the unique community we have created here. With the hard work of the staff at Judi’s House along with the amazing kids and caregivers that we work with, we are able to take a potentially devastating event in a child’s life and help give them a place where they can find support and solace.”

RWJF – the nation’s largest health care foundation – presented the award to Griese on the evening of October 19 at Judi’s House’s annual Oktoberfest Garden Party.

“It was a no brainer to name Brian Griese this year’s Patterson Award winner. The impact he has been able to make in the Denver area offers an excellent model for other athletes looking to affect positive change in the communities in which they live, work and play,” said Fred Mann, vice president of communications at RWJF. “All athletes, both active and retired, have an opportunity to make unique, positive contributions and Brian is a shining example of doing just that.”

The Patterson Award for Excellence in Sports Philanthropy was established to honor the legacy of former NBA and UCLA star Steve Patterson, who was renowned as much for his work off the court as he was for his work on it.

“Steve’s giving heart, unifying leadership, and dedication to improving the lives of others serve as an example for all people in sports,” said Carlette Patterson, Steve’s widow. “Brian’s work with Judi’s house exemplifies all of what Steve stood for and it is only appropriate that he receives this recognition. He sets an incredible example for all current and former athletes.”

Griese is the first current or former NFL player to be recognized with the Patterson Award.

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