ENGLEWOOD, Colo. --More than a decade has passed since he last played in Neyland Stadium, but Peyton Manning hasn't forgotten his University of Tennessee roots.
On Monday, it was announced that Manning -- an advisory board honoorary co-chair -- and his wife Ashley have donated $500,000 to The Pat Summitt Foundation.
"I'm so proud and honored to have Peyton and Ashley Manning on our team," Summitt said. "It's hard to find words that can adequately express how much their gift and involvement means to me personally and to our goal to defeat Alzheimer's disease. Tyler (Summitt) and I are truly thankful for what this gift can do to help those suffering from and living with Alzheimer's and its related dementias."
The foundation, a fund of East Tennessee Foundation, was established by Summitt in November 2011. Its purpose is to win the fight against Alzheimer's disease, and looks to do so through advancing research for prevention and a cure, providing support to patients, caregivers and families and by educating the public on the impacts of the disease.
Manning said that Summitt, who won eight NCAA national championships as head coach of the Tennessee Lady Vols basketball team, has always been defined by her strength and perserverance -- traits he admired. The quarterback has said she played a pivotal role in his decision to return to Tennessee for his senior season.
"I have such great respect and admiration for Coach Summitt as a mentor, coach and friend from my days as a Tennessee Volunteer and throughout my pro career," Manning said. "I hope my role as honorary co-chair can bring attention to the important mission of defeating Alzheimer's through research for a cure, support services for patients and caregivers, and building education and awareness."
The donation is the largest major gift announcement to date for the foundation.
"My mother and I are humbled and very grateful for this most generous gift from Peyton and Ashley Manning to our Foundation and for their willingness to lend their names and leadership to our fight," Tyler Summitt said.
In addition to the generous donation, the Mannings have volunteered regularly with the foundation, and Peyton serves as a honorary co-chair along with WNBA All-Star and ESPN analyst Kara Lawson.
"Both Ashley and I believe it's imperative we make our own personal contribution to advance this critical work in addition to serving in a volunteer capacity with the foundation," Manning said. "We are hopeful others will follow Pat's lead and come to the aid of the more than five and a half million Americans impacted by this disease."
More information about the foundation can be found at PatSummitt.org.