In recognition of the three players’ exceptional performance on the field, Shaw is donating to a Canadian charity of their choice through the Shaw CFL Top Performers program.
“Since partnering with the CFL, we have welcomed the opportunity to recognize the league’s Top Performers and support the causes that mean the most to them,” said Chethan Lakshman, Vice President, External Communications, Shaw Communications. “This year’s charities selected by James, Mike, and Brandon each do an outstanding job to make our communities stronger and we are proud to help these players shine a light on important causes that benefit children and youth in our communities.”
As last year’s Most Outstanding Rookie, Wilder helped lead the Toronto Argonauts to a Grey Cup Championship in Ottawa. The Florida State product recorded 1,405 yards from scrimmage (872 rushing, 533 receiving). Wilder finished first in Shaw Top Performer points and will donate $25,000 to Covenant House Toronto, which serves to shelter homeless children and youth in Toronto and beyond.
“I feel extremely grateful to be in the position where I’m able to donate to a life-changing charity. At Covenant House, the kids involved with their programs are often overlooked and I want them to know that we care for everyone in the community,” said Argonauts running back James Wilder Jr. “Every kid should have the chance to succeed and Covenant House helps provide them with that opportunity.”
Edmonton Eskimos quarterback Mike Reilly, the league’s reigning Most Outstanding Player, will be donating $15,000 to Adarius 4 Autism, an organization founded by his former teammate Adarius Bowman. Adarius 4 Autism assists youth diagnosed with Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD) by offering needs-based training and creating opportunities for growth and learning.
“When I found out I was given the opportunity to make a donation, I couldn’t think of a better cause than Adarius 4 Autism," said Mike Reilly. "I have seen first hand how passionate that Adarius is about helping those with, and affected by, autism and I knew donating to his foundation would be something that would have a positive impact on a lot of deserving people.”
Hamilton Tiger-Cats receiver Brandon Banks had a career year in 2017, recording his first 1,000-yard season while scoring a career-high 11 touchdowns that led him to finish third in the Shaw CFL Top Performers leaderboard. Banks will contribute $10,000 to the David Lane Youth Success Fund at John Howard Society through Give Proof to Our Youth in Hamilton.
“Over the past three years, I’ve had the pleasure of working with Give Proof To Our Youth in Hamilton who help promote education and positive participation in community activities among youth in the city,” said Banks. “I’m happy to help them raise money for their partners at John Howard Society and the David Lane Youth Success Fund so they can continue to do this important work for kids in Hamilton.”
Shaw Communications has been a league partner since 2015 as the only presenting sponsor of the Grey Cup. At the end of each year, the top three Shaw CFL performers – as selected by an independent panel of judges and weekly point accumulation – are given the opportunity to choose a charity to receive a donation from Shaw. Over the past three seasons, Shaw has donated $150,000 to the players’ charities of choice and will do so again in the upcoming 2018 season.
The CFL regular season kicks off a week earlier this year, Thursday, June 14th, when the Winnipeg Blue Bombers host the Edmonton Eskimos at Investors Group Field. Friday Night Football debuts June 15th when the Saskatchewan Roughriders host the reigning Grey Cup champions, the Toronto Argonauts. On Saturday, June 16th, the first double-header of the season starts with the Hamilton Tiger-Cats heading west to take on the Calgary Stampeders and the finale for Week 1 consists of the Montreal Alouettes playing against the BC Lions at BC Place.