In conjunction with Major League Soccer, Columbus Crew SC today announced that forward Kei Kamara has been named the 2015 winner of the MLS WORKS Humanitarian of the Year presented by Advocare award. Kamara, who was also named Crew SC's OhioHealth Humanitarian of the Year, becomes the first player in Black & Gold history to earn this prestigious League honor.
Kamara was previously named as a finalist for the honor along with New York City FC's Jeb Brovsky and Seattle Sounders FC's Brad Evans. In recognition of the award, MLS WORKS is set to donate $5,000 to the charity of Kamara's choice.
This season, Kamara has displayed his humanitarian qualities by both working with the charitable initiative Schools for Salone as well as by sharing his inspiring story with the Columbus community. In Central Ohio, through Crew SC's community platform Give Forward, which is presented by MAPFRE Insurance, the Crew SC forward has consistently given his time to speak to classrooms and youth centers about his journey. Kamara has launched a monthly outreach program to visit schools and community centers, speaking to at-risk youth about his background and the importance of making the right choices in life.
Schools for Salone partners with local villages in the Crew SC forward's native country to rebuild schools that were devastated in Sierra Leone's ten-year civil war. Since 2005, the foundation has built 16 schools and two libraries, including the “Education for All Primary School” in Allen Town, East End Freetown, which opened for classes in September of this year and was personally sponsored by Kamara and Philadelphia Union midfielder Michael Lahoud.
“We certainly know Kei has had a fantastic season on the field, but it is his off-the-field humanitarian work back in Sierra Leone and locally here in the Columbus community that truly represents what type of person Kei is,” said Sporting Director and Head Coach Gregg Berhalter. “He is most deserving of this honor.”
Kamara has spoken at numerous locations in Columbus this season, including the Westside Boys & Girls Club, Hayes Intermediate School, Medina Middle School and the Columbus Global Academy, where he teamed with Black & Gold Community MVP Derek Braun's biology class to speak about pursuing dreams.
“It was such a unique experience for my high school students to get the opportunity to meet Kei and hear his story and experiences as a professional soccer player,” said Braun. “At Columbus Global Academy, the students all have refugee and immigrant backgrounds which enabled them to instantly connect with Kei and see a vision for accomplishing their goals through hard work and discipline. I'm so grateful for Kei and Columbus Crew SC for taking the time to make a difference in the lives of students in the refugee community in Columbus, Ohio.”
Other Major League Soccer year-end awards are slated to be announced in the coming weeks. After scoring 22 goals in the 2015 regular season, Kamara is also a finalist for the Landon Donovan MVP Award, while Homegrown midfielder and Vice Captain Wil Trapp has been named a finalist for Comeback Player of the Year.
Crew SC returns to the pitch for the decisive Second Leg of the Eastern Conference Semifinals in the Audi 2015 MLS Cup Playoffs against the Montreal Impact on Sunday, November 8 at MAPFRE Stadium. The match kicks-off at 5:00 p.m. ET and is set to be broadcast nationally on ESPN as well as available locally on CD102.5 FM (English) and La Mega 103.1 FM (Spanish).