Islanders forward Matt Martin is the winner of the 2015-16 NHL Foundation Player Award. The honor was announced on stage at the 2016 NHL Awards in Las Vegas. The Foundation Award is presented annually to the player “who applies the core values of hockey - commitment, perseverance and teamwork - to enrich the lives of the people in the community.”
Martin’s contributions to the community this season included the following:
•In September, the Islanders forward launched the Matt Martin Foundation to generate financial support and awareness for causes that affect those closest to him. In its first year, Martin’s foundation raised over $75,000. The Foundation is currently supporting organizations such as the NYPD Widows and Children’s Fund, the Association for Children with Down Syndrome (ACDS), the Boomer Esiason Foundation for Cystic Fibrosis and the Islanders Children’s Foundation.
•Martin, who led the NHL in hits for the fifth consecutive season in 2015-16, began the “Matt Martin Hit Foundation” to raise money for the Boomer Esiason Foundation for Cystic Fibrosis Research. Martin designed a program in which fans pledge money for each of his hits during the season. The Hit Foundation raised over $6,000 in its first year.
•Martin began visiting with military families at all home games in 2011, working with Defending the Blue Line, an organization that ensures “that children of military members are afforded every opportunity to participate in the game of hockey." After each home game for the past five seasons, Martin has invited a member from the Defending the Blue Line program to be his guest for the game. Martin provides tickets to the game and a chance to spend some time with him after the game. Through his five years of work with DTBL, Martin has donated various items for fundraising events and has attended charity functions for the organization.
•This season, Martin began his work with the NYPD Widows & Children’s Foundation, an organization that provides aid and assistance to widows/widowers of police officers who have lost their loved ones in the line of duty. Similar to his work with the DTBL, Martin invited families from the NYPD Widows & Children Foundation to be his guests at home games.
•Martin ran a free hockey clinic in Brooklyn in December (2015) to give children the opportunity to learn the game and develop their skills. At the clinic, Martin’s foundation also donated $5,000 to the NYC PBA Widows & Children’s fund. This summer, Martin will launch a series of Matt Martin Hockey Camps, similar to the one in December. the seven-year NHL forward will visit rinks across Long Island to teach kids the game of hockey.
•Another pillar of the Matt Martin foundation is ACDS (formerly known as the Association for Children with Down Syndrome). This summer Martin developed a connection with an ACDS school on Long Island, after meeting a neighbor whose daughter had Down Syndrome. Shortly after they met, Martin incorporated ACDS into the Matt Martin Foundation’s four major causes. In January, Martin donated two SMART boards to the school in Plainview, NY ($12,000). The ACDS school’s mission is to “provide lifetime resources of exceptional quality, innovation and inclusion for individuals with Down Syndrome, other developmental disabilities and their families.”
•Martin is an active member at the Islanders’ team community events like Islanders’ School Day and the annual holiday hospital visits. Islanders’ School Day is an event where players travel to schools across Long Island to talk to students about the importance of education, anti-bullying and staying physically active. The annual Islanders’ hospital visits take place in December and let players shop for and deliver toys to children in local hospitals around the holidays.
•This season Martin donated $1,500 to Maya’s Rainbow, a cause set up for Maya Rachel Cohen, who passed away from a rare and hidden heart condition in December. The five-year old girl was a spunky, diehard Islanders fan. Her family started a fundraiser called “Maya’s Rainbow” to give children creative arts-and-crafts opportunities at the JCC Metrowest in West Orange, N.J., where Maya attended preschool and kindergarten. Martin’s generous donation helped the family inch towards their goal of $10,000.
•Martin also takes part in several NHL and Islanders Children’s Foundation fundraisers that have helped raise millions of dollars to help those in need. This year, Martin and his foundation have donated approximately $30,000 to the ICF. The foundations charities events include the team’s annual golf outing and casino night.
•Martin also took part in the NHL’s Hockey Fights Cancer month in October. This season, Martin hosted an event at the NHL Store in Manhattan where he brought in two children battling cancer for a shopping event at the store, and then held a Hockey Fights Cancer Q&A session with fans.
•In addition to his work through the Matt Martin Foundation, Martin donated $5,000 to Multiple Sclerosis research in January