Dyroff wins Humanitarian Award
ST. PAUL, Minn. – Boston College sophomore forward Brooks Dyroff was honored on Friday night as the 16th recipient of the Hockey Humanitarian Award, presented each year to the college hockey player who “most personifies true community spirit through the selfless commitment of leadership, effort and time.”
Teammate Cam Atkinson may have missed out on the 2011 Hobey Baker Award, but as he spoke to members of the media after Friday’s ceremony at the Xcel Energy Center, any disappointment he might have felt at missing out on the top individual honor in college hockey was trumped by his happiness at seeing Dyroff honored.
“That was pretty special,” Atkinson said. “The Hockey Humanitarian Award is just as good as the Hobey Baker.”
Dyroff, for his part, had gotten plenty from his philanthropic work before he ever laid a finger on the award.
“These experiences have given me so much,” Dyroff said. “I’ve started a journey that I hope to never end.”
Dyroff’s journey started in his native Boulder, Colo., where he volunteered at food banks and homeless shelters as a teenager with his childhood friend Kenny Haisfield. It wasn’t long, however, before their focus expanded far beyond the Rocky Mountains.
“We really enjoyed it,” Dyroff said of working with Haisfield in Colorado, “but at the same time, we were energetic, and we wanted to do something more. We wanted to help out on a larger scale, so we got thinking, ‘What do we take for granted in our life, and what do we love?’ That was education. We wanted to combine that motivation to do something bigger with our love for education.”
The result was CEO 4 Teens, a non-profit organization founded to “Create Educational Opportunities” for less fortunate teenagers around the world. In 2007, Dyroff and Haisfield raised enough money to sponsor 10 students in a one-year English and computer skills program in Ubud, Indonesia. Four years and many hours of work later, Dyroff regards awarding the first of those scholarships among the most rewarding experiences of his life.
|2011||Brooks Dyroff||Boston College|
|2008||William Bruce||Williams College|
|2005||Sarah Carlson||Boston College|
|2002||Rocky Ray Reeves||Buffalo St.|
|1996||J.P. McKersie||Boston Univ.|
“Kenny and I had had a two-hour flight, a 12-hour flight and an eight-hour flight to get to our final destination,” Dyroff said, “and we hit the ground running. We’re doing home visits to select candidates for this scholarship. I’ll never forget the first time we interviewed and said, ‘Congratulations on behalf of CEO for Teens, we would like to award you this scholarship to a one-year English and computer skills class. All of a sudden, there’s cheers everywhere, including my own.
“At that moment, I realized how much education meant to these families. Not only was the student crying, but the parents were, and I was probably bawling like a little baby because I was so happy. That’s the motivation that’s pushed Kenny and me to continue to help CEO 4 Teens grow and develop.”
The next stage in the growth and development of CEO 4 Teens happened when Dyroff traveled east to start his college hockey career at BC. Since Dyroff arrived at the Heights, CEO 4 Teens has expanded to include a program at Roxbury (Mass.) Community College to help young adults get their General Equivalency Diplomas. Dyroff has also involved his BC teammates in Mathletes, an after-school enrichment program with elementary school children, continuing to exert his influence in his adopted community in Boston.
“I have to give most of the credit to [BC assistant coach] Mike Cavanaugh,” Dyroff said. “He devised this plan over the summer. We paired up members of our freshman, sophomore and junior classes with members of a fifth-grade class at Saint Columbkille School in Brighton, Mass. We go over there two or three times a month, and we’ve had them up to BC, and when we go to the school, we help them with English and math, and sit in on their classroom activities for an hour.”
The educational message is certainly warmly received coming from BC hockey players, NCAA Champions in 2008 and 2010 and a high-profile presence on the Boston sports scene.
“We try to harness that power that we have in the best way possible,” Dyroff said. “It’s been a really great experience.”
With two more years at Boston College, Dyroff is looking for more experiences and more ways to make an impact. Teammate Tommy Atkinson (Cam’s older brother) is set to work with Dyroff on a new project for which they’re still formulating a plan, and undoubtedly there will be more ideas to come.
“I like to say that my mind is always going,” Dyroff said. “I have a really tough time falling asleep at night because I think about everything that’s going on and new ideas, maybe some areas we can help. That kind of comes naturally. I almost should probably try to fall asleep and get some shuteye every now and then, but I have a book beside my bed, and I always write my ideas down.”
He may be missing a few hours of sleep, but Brooks Dyroff never stops dreaming.
• Dyroff's CEO 4 Teens keeps on giving