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2011 Philadelphia Sports Writers Dinner honors Roy Halladay, living legends, and several courageous athletes

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The Philadelphia Sports Writers Association held its 107th Annual Dinner MondayRoy Halladay, who received his 2010 Cy Young Award from PSWA President Rich Westcott. Photo: Joe Vallee Sr. night at the Crown Plaza Hotel in Cherry Hill, New Jersey. Most of the buzz surrounding this dinner centered on Roy Halladay, who received his 2010 Cy Young Award for a second time (the first was in New York) by Rich Westcott, Phillies historian and president of this year’s event.

Halladay also received the Outstanding Athlete of the Year award at Monday’s event. And although he was very appreciative of the rewards, Halladay is using last year’s NLCS loss to the Giants as motivation for the upcoming season.

“To have it end the way it did was pretty abrupt for a lot of us,” Halladay said at his press conference prior to the dinner.

“No one anticipated going out the way we did. I really believe every one of us felt it should have continued.”

Click HERE for the OFFICIAL photos of the Sports Writers Dinner

 
Fellow Phillie Shane Victorino  received the Humanitarian Award for his work in the Philadelphia community, and Phillies manager Charlie Manuel  and GM Ruben Amaro were also on hand for the event.

The 2009-2010 Flyers received the Team of the Year Award as Ian Laperriere accepted the award on his team’s behalf. Sixer Elton Brand  was the recipient of the “Good Guy” Award, and former Eagles middle linebacker Bill Bergey received the Living Legend Award.

Oddly enough, no members of the current Philadelphia Eagles regime represented themselves at the event.  

Other notable guests included Navy senior co-captain Wyatt Middleton, Philadelphia University’s Herb Magee, who was honored with a Special Achievement Award for becoming the winningest coach in NCAA basketball history, Temple head basketball coach Fran Dunphy (who recently won his 400th NCAA game), and Drexel wrestling coach Jack Childs, who is in his 35th and final season.

New Temple football coach Steve Addazio was introduced, and his fiery intensity during his speech inspired Charlie Manuel as well as comedian Joe Conklin, whose impersonations of Manuel and Cole Hamels had Victorino (and even Manuel himself) practically falling out of their chairs.  

On a night where most of the high-profile athletes receive most of  the spotlight, the stories of Rowan University defensive end Matt Hoffman, and  Mark Herzlich  were clearly the two most inspiring athletes of the evening.

Hoffman’s stem cell donation saved the life of a 58 year-old man from Texas  suffering from lymphoma. Hoffman had signed up for the National Marrow Donor’s Program and had to miss the final game of his junior season to complete the process. The next day, the recipient received the cells, and the two finally met for the first time last December.

Herzlich, a Pennsylvania native, was named 2011’s Most Courageous Athlete by the association. Herzlich is a linebacker from Boston College who suffered from Ewing’s sarcoma, a rare form of bone cancer that was discovered in his left leg. Overcoming tremendous odds, Herzlich endured months of chemotherapy and radiation treatment, a titanium rod was inserted into his leg, he returned to Boston College to play football full-time, and is now training in Bradenton, Fla, preparing for the NFL combine.

Click HERE to watch some of Herzlich's press conference:

Despite some very dark days, Herzlich always believed he would play football again.

“Once my doctor told me that the surgery went well when they put the (titanium) rod in, and I could start running and lifting again, I could work my way on the football field. That confidence that he showed gave me a lot more confidence,” said a humble Herzlich at his press conference before the event.

“At the time (I was sick) I set two goals. The first was to be cancer free, my next goal was to get back on the football field. It’s a miracle I can play again, and I’m very proud to be back on the field.”

You couldn’t have ended this great event with a more heartwarming story than that.

Contact Joe Vallee at jvallee@philly2philly.com

Official Photogrphaer for 2011 PSWA Dinner: Joe Vallee Sr.