New Orleans Saints running back Mark Ingram has been recognized as the team's 2018 Man of the Year, the club nominee for the NFL's Walter Payton Man of the Year Award.
Ingram started the Mark Ingram Foundation his rookie season in 2011, with the express goal of helping children who have a parent or both parents in jail.
Every year, the Mark Ingram Foundation teams up with different organizations to help ensure that children with an incarcerated parent can still have a memorable holiday. During the annual holiday giveaway, each child is partnered with a Saints player or a Mark Ingram Foundation Volunteer to choose gifts for themselves and their family.
Ingram through his foundation, has also sponsored an annual back to school giveaway in New Orleans to ensure that every child, regardless of their home environment, has the necessary supplies to be ready and excited to learn.
A native of Flint, Mich., Ingram has also partnered in his hometown to provide athletic jerseys for student-athletes in Flint community schools as well as providing assistance during the Flint water crisis.
In addition to his own initiatives to support children with an incarcerated parent, Ingram has also played an active role in supporting charitable events sponsored by the Saints and his Saints teammates.
"I came up with the Mark Ingram Foundation my rookie year and I wanted to help all kids, but especially kids who have a parent or parents that are incarcerated. It's something that's dear to my heart, something that I lived through with my father being incarcerated for a number of my years growing up. Despite that he was my number one supporter, mentor and advisor. My aim is that for these kids even if they have a parent or two that are incarcerated, they can still have a great relationship with them and still accomplish the goals and achieve the aspirations that they want. They have to keep their goals high, keep close to the ones around them and their guardians and stay away from the wrong crowd."
Ingram's work was recognized by the Volunteers of America with their 2018 Ballington and Maud Booth Award for his work with the children of incarcerated parents through the Volunteers of America Southeast Louisiana's Mentoring Children of Promise Program.