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United Way In the News

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Yankton native and South Dakota Basketball Gatorade State Player of the Year, Matthew Mors, awarded United Way of Greater Yankton’s Connecting Kids Youth Scholarship Program with a $1,000 grant to help accomplish their goals of ensuring that all children are able to participate in the same activities as their peers, and that no child is turned away for inability to pay.

Sports have seen a double-digit decline over the past decade, largely due to tighter budgets in communities, but young people that participate in sports are found to be happier, healthier and better students. Gatorade Play It Forward empowers Gatorade Player of the Year recipients across the country to award local or national sports organizations with grants, so they can continue helping young athletes enjoy the benefit of sports.

“The Gatorade Player of the Year award highlights student-athletes who set an example both on and off the field,” said Amanda Turak, Assistant Marketing Manager for Gatorade Player of the Year. “The grants give these athletes a chance to donate to organizations like, United Way Connecting Kids, that positively impact the youth in their own communities.”

All 607 Gatorade State Player of the Year recipients are awarded a grant to donate to the organization of their choosing. Each Player of the Year can also submit an essay about why their organization is deserving of a Spotlight Grant, which is a larger monetary award. Gatorade awards 12 Spotlight Grants, one for each sport recognized by the Player of the Year program.

The Gatorade Player of the Year is an athletic award program that annually recognizes student-athletes not only for outstanding athletic excellence, but also high standards of academic achievement and exemplary character in 12 different sports: football, boys and girls basketball, baseball, boys and girls soccer, softball, boys and girls track & field, girls volleyball and boys and girls cross country. The Gatorade Player of the Year award is the most prestigious award in high school sports. In existence for more than 30 years, past winners include Peyton Manning, Abby Wambach, Karl-Anthony Towns, Derek Jeter and many other sports icons.

According to Matthew Mors, the Gatorade Player of the Year is typically awarded to upperclassmen. Mors stated that he is one of only two Sophomore athletes recognized with this award. “This award means a lot, it represents the amount of hard work put into the season, but also recognizes athletes of character,” said Mors. “It is a special award and I am honored to be this year’s recipient.”

When asked why he chose United Way’s Connecting Kids Youth Scholarships as the recipient of the $1,000 Gatorade Play It Forward grant, Mors stated, “When deciding which program to choose, I knew I wanted to make the most impact on our community, and Connecting Kids serves hundreds of kids each and every year.”

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