Red Carpet rolled out for the 2009 Home Depot ESPNU College Football Award Show at Walt Disney World Resort

December 10, 2009, Hollywood glamour met the sports world at Walt Disney World ‘s Boardwalk Resort. The nation’s top college football players were in town for the 2009 Home Depot ESPNU College Football Award Show. Florida quarterback Tim Tebow, Texas QB Colt McCoy and Alabama running back Mark Ingram were just a few top players who traded shoulder pads for suits and ties to walk the red carpet. Cheering fans, television cameras and flashes greeted the athletes as they made their way to the Atlantic Dance Hall at Disney’s Boardwalk Resort for the live awards show. Reporter Jenny Dunn caught up with the players and gives us the play by play of their red carpet experience.


Boston College Linebacker Herzlich Named Disney Spirit Award Recipient

Former All-American recognized for inspirational battle against rare cancer and fundraising efforts for cancer research

LAKE BUENA VISTA, Fla. (Nov. 18, 2009) – Boston College linebacker Mark Herzlich, who recently overcame a rare form of bone cancer and helped inspire more than $120,000 in donations for cancer-related causes, has been selected for the Disney Spirit Award given annually by Disney Sports to college football’s most inspirational figure.

Herzlich will be presented with the award during The Home Depot ESPNU College Football Awards at Walt Disney World Resort on Thursday, Dec. 10. The 19th annual awards show is scheduled for 7-9 p.m. ET and will be televised live on ESPN.

“The Disney Spirit Award is an award that means more to me than any award based on statistics and on-the-field achievements,” Herzlich said. “I have had to battle a deadly rare disease this past year and, along with beating the disease, I was fortunate to be able to help others along the way. To be recognized with this award is an honor and I hope that it shows people around the world that there is hope and that it will encourage them to continue to battle.”

In 2008, Herzlich emerged as one of the top linebackers in the country, earning All-American honors and being named the 2008 ACC Defensive Player of the Year. After he passed up a chance to go to the NFL as a junior, his football career was in jeopardy this summer when he was diagnosed with Ewing’s sarcoma, a malignant tumor most often found in bone or soft tissue. A week later, Herzlich began treatment to ward off the cancer in his leg.

Following Herzlich’s diagnosis, support poured in from both the Boston College community and around the country. His Eagles teammates created their own chapter of Uplifting Athletes, a national organization that works with college football players to fund rare disease research, holding a Lift For Life event which raised $28,000. Additionally, Boston College initiated a “Beat Cancer” campaign and sold gold T-shirts that honored Herzlich.

Beyond the Boston College campus, other schools and organizations such as Clemson, Florida State, N.C. State, Notre Dame, Virginia Tech, Wake Forest and the Orange Bowl all donated to Uplifting Athletes in Herzlich’s name. And Herzlich himself made personal visits to cancer patients near campus and on the road to share his story and offer words of encouragement.

On Nov. 2, Herzlich received his final chemotherapy treatment and is currently cancer free. Later this month, he will have a rod surgically inserted into his leg to strengthen the bone. After a two-week recovery process, he will begin his journey to rejoin the Eagles on the field for the 2010 season.

“Mark’s indomitable spirit in the face of such a devastating illness and his extraordinary support of cancer research embodies the true essence of the Disney Spirit Award,” said Ken Potrock, senior vice president of Disney Sports Enterprises. “Disney Sports is proud to honor Mark for his courage, optimism, support of other cancer patients, and his determination to return to the football field next season. He is truly an inspiration to all of us.”

The Disney Spirit Award is presented annually to college football’s most inspirational figure. Herzlich becomes the 14th recipient of the award, joining past honorees Daniel Huffman (1996), Dwight Collins (1997), Matt Hartl (1998), East Carolina University (1999), Hameen Ali (2000), the United States Service Academy football teams (2001), Dewayne White (2002), Neil Parry (2003), Tim Frisby (2004), the Tulane University football team (2005), University of Louisville band member Patrick Henry Hughes (2006), Zerbin Singleton (2007) and Tim Tebow (2008).

Tebow was selected as the 2008 recipient on the merits of his remarkable humanitarian efforts, including juggling the extraordinary demands of being one of the marquee players in college football, with countless hours spent preaching and providing support to less fortunate people.

In 2007, U.S. Naval Academy slot-back Zerbin Singleton overcame several obstacles growing up, including leaving Alaska after his mother’s incarceration to follow his dream of becoming a part of the U.S. space program. Initially accepted into the Naval Academy, Singleton’s aviation dreams were derailed by injuries from a car accident one week before graduating as class valedictorian that left him unable to participate in the Navy’s plebe summer. Singleton enrolled his freshman year at Georgia Tech until he was healthy enough to transfer to the Naval Academy.
Disney Spirit Award Recipients:
Date Recipient School (Hometown)
1996 Daniel Huffman Rossville High School (Rossville, Ill.)
1997 Dwight Collins Central Florida University (Lake Charles, La.)
1998 Matt Hartl Northwestern University (Denver, Colo.)
1999 East Carolina University * East Carolina University (Greenville, N.C.)
2000 Hameen Ali College of William & Mary (Dover, Del.)
2001 U.S. Air Force Academy ** U.S. Air Force Academy (Colorado Springs, Colo.)
U.S. Military Academy ** U.S. Military Academy (West Point, N.Y.)
U.S. Naval Academy ** U.S. Naval Academy (Annapolis, Md.)
2002 Dewayne White University of Louisville (Marbury, Ala.)
2003 Neil Parry San Jose State University (Sonora, Calif.)
2004 Tim Frisby University of South Carolina (Allentown, Pa.)
2005 Tulane University* Tulane University (New Orleans, La.)
2006 Patrick Henry Hughes University of Louisville (Louisville, Ky.)
2007 Zerbin Singleton United States Naval Academy (Annapolis, Md.)
2008 Tim Tebow University of Florida (Jacksonville, Fla.)
2009 Mark Herzlich Boston College (Wayne, Pa.)

* presented to entire football team
** presented to football teams at all three service academies

Media Note: Media interested in attending the Home Depot ESPNU College Football Awards Show can apply for credentials For more information, please visit

Debra Martin Koma wrote about food, travel and lifestyle issues for a number of local and national publications before she fell in love with Walt Disney World on her first visit — when she was 34! She's returned to her Laughing Place more times than she can count in the ensuing years, and enthusiastically shares her passion with readers of AllEars.Net and AllEars®. Deb also co-authored (along with Deb Wills) PassPorter's Open Mouse for Walt Disney World and the Disney Cruise Line, a travel guide designed for all travelers to Walt Disney World who may require special attention, from special diets to mobility issues.

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