Ithaca, N.Y., will always feel like home to Dustin Brown, but his efforts to establish roots in Los Angeles have been extensive, and on Wednesday those efforts got recognized.
By virtue of his extensive charity and volunteer work, Brown was selected as the winner of the NHL Foundation Player Award, as announced at a ceremony in Las Vegas. Brown, a finalist for the third consecutive year, won the award for the first time.
The award, selected by a judging panel, includes a $25,000 donation from the league to the foundation established by Brown and his wife, Nicole. Washington’s Mike Green and Vancouver’s Daniel and Henrik Sedin were the other finalists for the award, which "recognizes an NHL player who applies the core values of hockey -- commitment, perseverance and teamwork -- to enrich the lives of people in his community."
"You don't really do this type of thing to try to get recognized," Brown said. "You do it because it's the right thing to do, and when you get recognized for something like that, it's a big honor. But at the end of the day, the most rewarding part of it all is just giving your time and giving back. A lot of the stuff that I've been doing has been with kids. I can have a huge impact on their lives just by giving an hour or two of my time, here and there."
Since signing a six-year contract extension in 2007 and being named team captain in 2009, Brown and his wife have steadily increased their local involvement, and Brown has been a finalist for the award for three straight years. The Browns now spend the bulk of their time in Southern California, where all three of their sons were born.
The bulk of Brown’s time and effort has benefitted children. Within the past two years, Brown has donated $15,000 to Children’s Hospital Los Angeles’ Newborn and Infant Critical Care Unit, donated nearly $10,000 to a relief-effort fund for Japanese earthquake victims and helped raise $70,000 to build a new playground in Carson.
Brown also hosted a young cancer patient as part of a Make-A-Wish Foundation event, has served as a spokesman for the Children’s Cancer Research Fund as well as the Kings’ Pancreatic Cancer Awareness Night and helped "adopt" a local family in need during the holiday season.
Nicole Brown has also been her husband’s partner in charitable ventures, and has taken over the organization of a local golf tournament that benefits the Child Abuse Prevention Center. In seven years, the tournament has raised more than $400,000.
"Knowing that I loved L.A., and being in L.A. and that my wife and family enjoyed L.A. as well," Brown said, "I think it was important to take on that responsibility of being charitable and raising up awareness of issues that effect a lot of people. As pro athletes, we live pretty good lives, so for me to give back a little bit and try to lead the way, maybe it encourages more of my teammates to do more of that stuff.
"It goes a long way toward creating a family community within the Kings organization. Our owners are pretty highly charitable as well, so you can kind of follow their lead with a lot of stuff that they do, in and around the L.A. area. It's pretty phenomenal. So, it's just one of those things where I love being in L.A. and I want to have an effect on not only the hockey world but where I live, and where my kids will grow up, and make it a positive environment."