D.C. United announced that they have selected defender Steve Birnbaum as the team’s 2017 nominee for Humanitarian of the Year. Birnbaum’s selection places him among 22 players across Major League Soccer nominated to receive the award, an honor given annually by MLS to players that have demonstrated outstanding dedication to charitable and volunteer efforts in their community.
A leader both on and off the field, Birnbaum has used his visibility to promote charitable initiatives, raise money for the community, and inspire others to contribute to charitable causes. As United’s captain, Birnbaum understands that his standing as a professional athlete brings with it a responsibility to give back to the community.
Inspired by Special Olympics' mission to provide athletic training and competition to children and adults with intellectual disabilities, Birnbaum became an ambassador for D.C. United’s Special Olympics D.C. Unified Soccer program in 2017. Through his work as an ambassador, Birnbaum encouraged youth, both with and without disabilities, to build fitness, confidence and soccer skills during the three-month program. Birnbaum also helped lead a series of pep rallies in support of the “Spread the Word to End the Word” campaign to help foster respect and inclusion among youth in local schools and in their communities. In an effort to help raise funds, Birnbaum took part in the annual Polar Plunge event to raise money and awareness for Special Olympics D.C. With his help, the event raised more than $200,000 for Special Olympics D.C.
In addition to his volunteer work with Special Olympics, Birnbaum has become one of United’s most reliable team members off the field, lending a helping hand at many children-focused community events. During the 2017 season, the defender helped lead a number of community initiatives, including the Black-and-Red's annual Armed Forces Week, MLS WORK’s Kick Childhood Cancer campaign, and youth soccer clinics in the community.
Three finalists will be selected and announced for the league-wide award on October 31. A full list of players nominated for the 2017 MLS WORKS Humanitarian of the Year Award, presented by Advocare, can be found here.
Past United nominees for the Humanitarian of the Year award include Sean Franklin (2016 and 2014), Travis Worra (2015), Dwayne De Rosario (2013), Stephen King (2012), Brandon Barklage (2011), and Devon McTavish (2009 and 2010).