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Vikings Man of Year Chad Greenway Salutes Young Leaders

MINNETONKA — Chad Greenway has a three-peat, but the Vikings linebacker said credit goes beyond himself to those who have helped his Lead The Way Foundation.

Greenway was recognized as the 2016 Vikings Community Man of the Year on Monday at a luncheon for community-minded Shakopee High School students and families that are helped by The Salvation Army.

It is the third year in a row in which Greenway has been named the Vikings Community Man of the Year and fourth time over the course of his 11-season career.

He will represent the Vikings in consideration for the NFL's Walter Payton Man of the Year, who will be announced during NFL Honors on Feb. 4, the night before Super Bowl LI in Houston.

Greenway's Lead The Way Foundation has donated more than $1.5 million to the Twin Cities and Upper Midwest with a focus on helping chronically and critically ill children. The charity will receive $50,000 from the NFL Foundation.

A hashtag campaign is ongoing (through Jan. 8) in which the player with the most mentions of his hashtag (#GreenwayWPMOYChallenge) will receive an additional $25,000.

"It's great for the folks who have given to the foundation. It's great for what we represent and who we are," Greenway said. "We know that the reason we do it is wholesome and the people we do it for are all grateful people and love the things we do, the events we put on and the different ways we give back.

"It's really for those people," Greenway added. "It's nice to be a guy that gets the award that says you're the man of the year, but really it means so much more than the award. It means that the foundation has had some success, we've grown and helped the most amount of people we can help."

Vikings Executive Director of Community Relations Brad Madson, who is in his 24th year with the team, said Greenway has "been amazing from day one."

Greenway was recognized as the 2016 Vikings Community Man of the Year on Monday at a luncheon for community-minded Shakopee High School students and families that are helped by The Salvation Army.

"He's just immersed himself in the community with so many different causes. He lives here; this is his home; and he's just been a joy to work with," Madson said. "He's just such a great example, and his teammates love him. It makes my job easy to have a guy like that doing community service so the young guys come up and can see how to act. Chad's a great example of that."

Shakopee High School won an appearance by the Vikings for the third straight year by collecting the most items — more than 2,500 items — for the Warm & Fed Challenge, an initiative created by Jessica Dereschuk.

This year, the five-day drive focused more on gathering warm clothing as opposed to canned goods and other food.

Shakopee High School students have gathered 12,500 items in four years, and the collective effort by schools in the Metro has led to donations of more than 41,000 items to The Salvation Army.

"It's so crazy because we were so nervous about not making [our goal] because we've been doing it for the past four years," said Skyler Sao, a co-president of LEAD (Leaders in Education and Diversity). "We were so excited to see everyone was still participating and excited about being part of this and helping the community come together and even getting little kids to join the effort."

Other members of LEAD — co-president Wendy Sandoval, Neal Bhakta, Cindy Chesumbai, Cherylle Cherus, Ruqaya Hadi and Hafsa Abdi — attended the event and were joined by Vikings Audie Cole, Edmond Robinson and Kentrell Brothers.

The school earned a pep rally but opted to share the appearance with families, continuing to embody the school's commitment of sharing and service.

Attendees received gift cards for shopping sprees.

Greenway and his wife, Jenni, have four daughters who are being raised to help others the way that Chad and Jenni were in their respective hometowns of Mount Vernon, South Dakota, and Chicago.

"As our kids get older, we want to let them run their own initiatives, let them run with their own ideas and let them see it through," Greenway said. "We have the vehicle now at the foundation to be able to do those things, to be able to pass it on, so that's really what it's all about. My parents did that to me in their own way, with what resources they had and were able to teach me those things by giving what they had."

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