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Quarterback Club honors top quarterbacks and raises funds for Boys & Girls Clubs

Peyton, Eli, and Archie Manning, along with children from Boys & Girls Clubs, will all have something in common this summer.

Each will benefit from the National Quarterback Club annual awards to be held June 29th in Washington, D.C.

Every year the National Quarterback Club presents awards to quarterbacks from the high school to professional level. The awards center on a banquet to raise funds for a charity in the community where the awards are held, which varies from year to year. This year's event will benefit the Greater Washington Boys & Girls Clubs, the largest in the country.

All three Mannings will be honored this year. Peyton will receive the Top NFL Quarterback Award, Eli will receive the College Quarterback Award, and their father, Archie, will be inducted into the National Quarterback Club Hall of Fame. Past winners have included Brett Favre, Joe Montana, and John Elway.

New Orleans Saints quarterback Aaron Brooks will receive the Humanitarian of the Year Award for his efforts in the community. Brooks started a literacy program in New Orleans in conjunction with the public library, promoting the use of libraries during the summer months when school is not in session and some students may not have access to books.

Last summer Brooks told students, "If you want to be like me, you'd better read like me." And they took his words to heart. It is estimated the program, "Read to Pass" motivated 15,000 children to read 80,000 books from May 24 to August 8, 2003.

"I was able to help create an environment for the kids to better themselves for the future through literacy programs," said Brooks, who believes reading can open doors for young people. "I just try to stay involved. There's a great need of leadership and support from the role models that kids look up to, and that is what I am trying to do."

Literacy is a key piece of this year's program as children from 25 Washington area Boys & Girls Clubs are participating in an essay writing contest. Children have submitted essays on the topic "Quarterback is more than a position. It is a way of life." The hope is to help the children understand that football teaches valuable life lessons.

The writers of the top 50 essays will have a chance to interact with the award-winning players. They will attend an event at the National Press Club and learn the importance of reading and writing from news and television personalities, be trained on how to interview athletes and then get a chance to ask them questions during a press conference.

Boys & Girls Clubs programs focus on both sports activities and education as a way to develop well-rounded children. The goal is to create a safe place for children to learn and grow outside of school. Approximately 3.6 million young people are members of Boys & Girls Clubs across the country with 64 percent of the members from minority families.

Members have the opportunity to participate in sports such as football as part of the larger program. The majority of members range from 7 to 15 years old. For these students, leadership programs help prepare them to be responsible citizens in their communities.

The combination of sports activities, with education, leadership, and the arts has proven successful. Children from Boy & Girls Clubs programs have improved standardized test scores, improved grades, and have chosen to stay away from drugs and alcohol.

For those efforts, the Boys & Girls Clubs were selected by the National Quarterback Club to receive significant funding.

Reprinted by permission of USA Football.