Community Service Tom AND Gayle Benson
ince Tom Benson’s purchase of the New Orleans Saints in 1985 and the New Orleans Pelicans in 2012, the clubs’ greatest impact has been in the Gulf South community. The charitable involvement of the clubs rank as he and his wife Gayle’s largest priority personally. It is Mr. and Mrs. Benson’s vision that the Saints and the Pelicans are much more than professional sports teams and, through their leadership, they are committed to giving back and serving a region that has shown incredible support. The Bensons and the clubs’ players, coaches and staff are leaders when it comes to volunteerism, involvement, donations and charitable outreach. As dedicated corporate citizens, the Saints and the Pelicans annually put millions of dollars back into the community in financial support, in-kind donations, charitable appearances and the donations of goods and services-not to mention the club’s critical role in economic development and impact. The Bensons have been honored repeatedly for the support and care of charitable and civic causes, including the Volunteers of America selecting Mr. Benson as the winner of the annual Good Samaritan Award in Philanthropy in 2008. In 2010, he was awarded Loyola University of New Orleans’ highest honor as the recipient of
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the Integritas Vitae Award, given to an individual who exemplifies a commitment to community service. In 2014, Mrs. Benson was recognized by the Girl Scouts of Louisiana East as a Woman of Distinction for her leadership and service to others. In 2010, both Mr. and Mrs. Benson received the Elizabeth Seton Award, which is dedicated to those who have served the National Catholic Education Association through personal or professional philanthropy that has positively impacted Catholic education in the nation. In 2012, they received from Pope Benedict XVI the Pro Ecclesia et Pontifice Award for outstanding service to the Catholic Church and the Pontiff, the highest Papal award granted to a lay person. Through the leadership of the Bensons, the Saints and now the Pelicans have raised over $3 million for community causes to support natural disasters including hurricanes, the Gulf Coast oil spill and most recently flooding throughout the State of Louisiana in 2016. Annually, both clubs have also partnered with local youth-oriented charities such as the Boys & Girls Clubs, Special Olympics, Boy and Girls Scouts of America and the United Way to reach as many children as possible. Both teams encourage the health and wellness of children in the Gulf South through Junior Training Camp programs that create fun and memorable football and
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basketball experiences while promoting physical fitness and the importance of daily routines. Over 45 foundations and agencies receive monetary donations from the Saints and Pelicans each year – organizations as diverse as Make-A-Wish Foundation, the American Heart Association, the United Negro College Fund, Habitat for Humanity, the New Orleans Police and Justice Foundation, the Second Harvest Food Bank, Ochsner Medical Center, Donate Life America and Team Gleason. In addition to consistently supporting local charities, the Bensons have also been a leading advocate for New Orleans and the Gulf South by lending their support in attracting new events to the city, and the clubs have worked in conjunction with the Greater New Orleans Sports Foundation and other local entities to bid and receive events such as the 2012 and 2022 NCAA Men’s Final Four Basketball Championship, the 2013 and 2020 Women’s Final Four and the 2014 and 2017 NBA All-Star Games. New Orleans’ leading advocate of the successful bid to host Super Bowl XLVII, the Bensons remain committed to work on behalf of the city to land future Super Bowls, because of the financial impact and positive global exposure they are able to shed on the city and the state.