WASHINGTON, D.C.— Horatio Alger Association of Distinguished Americans, Inc., a nonprofit educational organization honoring the achievements of outstanding individuals and encouraging youth to pursue their dreams through higher education, announced in December that Denver Broncos Executive Vice President of Football Operations/General Manager John Elway has been selected for membership in the prestigious organization. Elway joins 10 other esteemed business and civic leaders from across North America in receiving this honor in 2017. For the last 70 years, the Horatio Alger Award has been annually bestowed upon admirable leaders who have succeeded despite facing adversity, and who are committed to higher education and charitable efforts in their local communities.
The son of a high school biology teacher and a football coach, John Elway was born in Port Angeles, Wash. Due to his father's coaching job, Elway's family moved frequently, spending time in Washington, Montana and California. He worked as a paperboy in middle school to make extra money to help support his parents and his siblings. A remarkable athlete, Elway excelled on the football field, receiving a scholarship to attend and play at Stanford University.
He was selected by the Baltimore Colts with the No. 1 overall pick in the 1983 NFL Draft, but joined the Denver Broncos via trade. Named the NFL's Most Valuable Player in 1987, he led the Broncos to a league-best three Super Bowls in the 1980s before helping the team capture back-to-back World Championships following the 1997 and 1998 seasons. Elway retired in 1999 after receiving MVP honors in his final game in Super Bowl XXXIII. He finished his playing career as the NFL's all-time winningest starting quarterback and was voted to a franchise-record nine Pro Bowls. He was inducted into the Denver Broncos Ring of Fame in 1999 and was enshrined into the Pro Football Hall of Fame in 2004.
After experiencing great success throughout his life, in the years following his retirement, Elway lost his father, who was his closest friend. He later lost his sister, as well. Despite these tragedies, he has remained determined to maintain a positive outlook on life. Today, Elway serves as executive vice president of football operations/general manager of the Denver Broncos. His 71 wins during his first 100 games as an executive from 2011-2016 are the most in NFL history by a general manager.
He was the architect of Denver's 2015 Super Bowl 50 championship team, making him the first individual to start at quarterback for a Super Bowl winner and return as a general manager to win another. Always striving to build a winning program for his team, Elway also owns several successful car dealerships and restaurants in the Greater Denver area.
"Throughout his illustrious career, John has displayed great leadership and energy both on and off of the football field," said Byron Trott, president, Horatio Alger Association and 2011 Horatio Alger Award recipient. "John has remained steadfast in his desire to excel professionally and donate his time and talents to initiatives that make areal difference. My fellow Members and I are proud to welcome him into our organization, and we have no doubt that he will serve as a strong advocate for the Association and its important mission."
Since 1988, Elway has served as chairman of the Elway Foundation, a nonprofit organization established in 1983 that has raised more than $6 million for charities that help prevent child abuse and treat abuse victims in Colorado. He contributes to a number of charitable organizations and initiatives, some of which have included the Barbara Davis Children's Juvenile Diabetes Foundation, the Boys and Girls Club of Denver, Men for the Cure, Liberty Day, the Fund for Colorado's Future and Drive for Education. In 1992, Elway was awarded the prestigious "Edge NFL Man of the Year Award," which in recent years has been renamed the Walter Payton NFL Man of the Year Award. This is the only league-sponsored award that recognizes a player's off-the-field community work, in addition to playing excellence.
In accepting this honor, Elway commented, "There have been many extraordinary moments in my life, but being inducted into the Horatio Alger Association is one that is both gratifying and humbling. To be recognized in a group of such esteemed leaders – including several of my football industry peers – is an incredible feeling. I look forward to representing the Association with as much passion as I represent the Denver Broncos and I am excited to be able to support this meaningful organization."
Through its Members, Horatio Alger Association aims to educate young people about the limitless opportunities afforded to them by the free-enterprise system. To further this goal, the organization awards scholarships to outstanding high school students who are committed to pursuing higher education and giving back to their communities. Like Association Members, Horatio Alger Scholars have faced significant adversities, but have also displayed unmatched resilience in overcoming their challenges. Since the scholarship program was established in 1984, Horatio Alger Association has provided more than $125 million to students in need. Scholarships are privately funded solely through the generosity of Association Members, Life Partners and friends.
Elway and the Member Class of 2017 will be formally inducted into the Association on March 30 - April 1, 2017, during the Association's 70th Horatio Alger Award Induction Ceremonies in Washington, D.C. The annual three-day event honors the achievements of both Members and National Scholars, affording both groups the opportunity to meet and interact, exchanging stories of hardships and triumphs.