The Institute for Sport, Spirituality and Character Development Award

Institute Award

Neumann University’s annual Institute for Sport, Spirituality and Character Development Award recognizes outstanding individuals and organizations for their contributions in athletics. Recipients exhibit strong character through athletics, exemplify spirituality, and embody the good that exists in and through sports.

Since the award was inaugurated in 2011, the Institute has identified outstanding individuals and organizations whose work in the sports world inspires an awareness to something deeper than game-day X’s and O’s. In 2014, the Institute received an anonymous donation to present the award every year in honor of the late Joseph P. McFadden, Bishop of Harrisburg. The donor wished to preserve Bishop McFadden’s steadfast belief that sport possesses educative, formative, and transformative potential. Bishop McFadden also believed that Catholic colleges and universities possess a sacred responsibility to create opportunities to discover the good, the true, and the beautiful. How fitting that his two strong beliefs converge through this award as the Institute carries his legacy into the future.

Past Institute Award recipients include:

        – 2018 – 2019 –

Kevin Reilly

In 1976, shortly after beginning his NFL career, Kevin was diagnosed with a rare form of cancer when he played for the Philadelphia Eagles. This effectively ended his career in football. He underwent multiple surgeries that led to the removal of his left arm, shoulder and five ribs. Recovery from surgery was difficult and Reilly suffered significant depression but was able to overcome it.  Kevin’s story isn’t merely about survival, it is a tale about Faith, resilience of the human spirit and rising from the ashes. Kevin reveals his experience with finding strength when your greatest adversary is yourself. Continuing on and winning small victories day-by-day without a stadium full of fans to cheer you on, but only the faintest whisper from above telling you that sometimes you have to fall to fly.  Kevin’s talk emphasizes his key to winning in life, the 4F’s: Faith, Family, Friends, and Fortitude. In this day and age, we are quickly becoming a nation of victims, allowing adversities and challenges to overwhelm the skills and blessings that God has given us to handle the crosses we face.  Kevin speaks from the heart and uses his own life as a lesson on how all of us can prevail from bad luck, adversity and pain to find the very best in ourselves.

Click here for a full video of Kevin’s acceptance speech, presented to all Neumann student-athletes.


        – 2017 – 2018 –
Penn Mutual

The people of Penn Mutual and the values-based culture of the organization serve as a premier model of corporate responsibility and shared leadership. Penn Mutual is the official title sponsor of the Annual Collegiate Rugby Championships. Their involvement expanded to include the National Small College Rugby Organization, the Rugby Business Network, and the creation of the Premiership Rugby American Series – which aims to empower, grow and increase awareness of the rugby community.

Click here for a full video of Eileens’ acceptance speech on behalf of Penn Mutual, presented to all Neumann student-athletes.


       – 2016 – 2017 –
Ron Meyer at Neumann UniversityRon Meyer

Ron Meyer uncovers the role that faith plays in the lives of athletes and sports professionals as host of the Blessed2Play radio show, which airs on EWTN Radio and SiriusXM Satellite Radio. He encourages athletes to think of themselves as spiritual beings and to bring a unique mental and spiritual focus to their sport and their lives.

Click here for a full video of Ron’s acceptance speech, presented to all Neumann student-athletes.


       – 2015 – 2016
Haley Scott DeMariaHaley Scott DeMaria

Haley Scott DeMaria’s story of recovery from paralysis following the famous 1992 Notre Dame swim team bus crash has inspired thousands. Her vivid and emotional path back from paralysis and, more importantly, the spiritual components she was able to identify from her remarkable journey, made her an exceptional recipient of the Institute Award.

Click here for full coverage of Haley’s visit to Neumann, including her Institute Award acceptance speech.


       – 2014 – 2015 –
The Ed Snider Youth Hockey Foundation

Kathy Hanrahan and Jim Britt of Snider Hockey

Ed Snider, owner of the Philadelphia Flyers, created the Foundation in 2005 to bring the game of hockey to children in and around Philadelphia who otherwise would never have the opportunity to play. Snider Hockey teaches children to value their academic and personal development by stressing the importance of schoolwork, mutual respect, and good citizenship.

Click here for full coverage of the 2014 Institute Award, including an acceptance speech by Jim Britt, COO of Snider Hockey.


       – 2013 – 2014 –
Anne Donovan Institute AwardAnne Donovan

Two-time Olympic gold medalist (1884, 1988) and Naismith Hall of Fame Member Anne Donovan received the 2013 Institute Award. Both her inspiring athletic accomplishments and generous philanthropic nature led to her selection for the Award.

Click here for more info about Anne and the 2013 Institute Award.


       – 2012 – 2013 –
Coaches vs. Cancer 2012Coaches vs. Cancer of Philadelphia

Coaches vs. Cancer of Philadelphia is part of the National Coaches vs. Cancer program created in 1993 by the American Cancer Society and the National Association of Basketball Coaches (NABC). United in their passion and energy to raise awareness and funds to combat this disease, Coaches vs. Cancer of Philadelphia has hosted numerous events and has raised more than $4.7 million for the cause since its inception in 1996.

Click here for more info about Coaches vs. Cancer of Philadelphia.


       – 2011- 2012 
Primeau featureKeith Primeau

As former captain of the Philadelphia Flyers, Keith Primeau has learned countless lessons through his athletic career both on and off the ice. Because of both his renowned leadership and generous spirit, Neumann University proudly presented Keith Primeau the inaugural Institute for Sport, Spirituality and Character Development Award.

Click here for more info on Keith and his acceptance speech.