Kara Lawson of the Connecticut Sun is the recipient of the Dawn Staley Community Leadership Award in recognition of her outstanding work in the community in 2012, the WNBA announced today. The award recognizes the player whose outreach inspires the community and reflects Staley’s leadership, spirit, charitable efforts, and love for the game.
Lawson was previously recognized for her achievements on and off the court with the 2012 Kim Perrot Sportsmanship Award.
“Kara Lawson has represented the WNBA admirably and has done a phenomenal job in elevating its name over the course of her career,” said WNBA President Laurel J. Richie. “As evidenced by her efforts on behalf of the Pat Summitt Foundation, Kara is an ambassador and leader for all levels of basketball as well as a role model to girls and women everywhere.”
During the 2012 season, Lawson donated $50 for each three-pointer made to the Pat Summitt Foundation in honor of her collegiate coach. Summitt was diagnosed with early-onset dementia. Lawson, however, inspired by her former coach wanted to do more than donate money; she immersed herself in a cause with the goal of inspiring others. Summitt, the legendary coaching figure who guided the Tennessee women’s basketball program to 1,098 wins and eight national championships, announced she was stepping down from the Lady Vols in April of 2012.
The Pat Summitt Foundation seeks to raise awareness of Alzheimer’s, its causes and help work towards a cure. For 2012, Lawson finished the season with a team-record 74 3-pointers, and her donation was matched by the Connecticut Sun Foundation, the Mohegan Tribe as well as others and fan donations. In total, the three-point campaign raised $32,000. In January of 2013, Lawson was named an honorary co-chair of the Pat Summitt Foundation Advisory Board.
"It’s an honor to pay tribute to Kara Lawson with the Dawn Staley Community Leadership award,” said WNBA Legend and University of South Carolina head coach Dawn Staley. “Her work with the Pat Summitt Foundation shows her commitment to making a lasting difference around the nation about Alzheimer's. Her spirit of compassion has inspired others to get involved in finding a cure for Alzheimer's and honor an icon in sports."
The Dawn Staley Community Leadership Award is presented annually. Each WNBA team nominated one player and a designated committee selected Lawson as the winner. The WNBA will make a $10,000 donation to the Pat Summitt Foundation on behalf of Lawson.
"I'm thrilled to receive the Dawn Staley Community Leadership Award. My relationship with Dawn goes back over 20 years,” said Kara Lawson. “She was the first female basketball player I looked up to and tried to model myself after. She left an indelible impression on the women's game. I've always felt that being mentioned in the same breath as Dawn meant you were doing things the right way. My goal has always been to have a positive impact in my community. In my role with the Pat Summitt Foundation, I have the opportunity to work with a passionate group dedicated to end Alzheimer's. Thank you to Dawn and the WNBA for this prestigious award."