MAHOPAC, N.Y. -- The 17-year-old from Mahopac High School who was presented with the USA Football's Heart of Giant Award will receive $3,500 equipment grant for his school and a trophy at the New York Giants home game against the Detroit Lions Sunday.
New York Giants’ running back Rashad Jennings presented the award to Charlie Burt Monday.
Burt was nominated for the award, sponsored by the Hospital for Special Surgery and the New York Giants, because of his hard work, dedication, and teamwork.
"It is an honor to be here and give this award to someone who has the heart of a Giant both on and off the field,” Jennings said in presenting the award.
Burt, who was born without his left hand, said that he never let this get in his way.
“My father had a football in my hand since I was four,” he has said, “and I’ve always worked hard and loved the game.”
Burt told the students in attendance, who included fifth graders from Mahopac’s elementary schools as well as high school students, not to give up on their dreams.
“No matter what obstacle comes your way, you can achieve what you want to," Burt said. "When people doubt you, you keep going. The only limitations you have are the ones you put on yourself.”
Giants’ defensive end Jason Pierre-Paul also appeared in a video message to Burt, saying he can relate to Burt’s work ethic in the face of adversity. Pierre-Paul lost a finger when his hand was severely injured during a fireworks accident but continued to play after recovering.
“You are a true inspiration,” Pierre-Paul said. “A true leader.”
Hospital for Special Surgery’s Dr. Sam Taylor, an orthopedic surgeon for the New York Giants, also spoke at the awards ceremony.
“The values and life lessons of your hard work in football will take you anywhere you want to go,” he said.
In addition to his work on the field and in the classroom, Burt, who plans to study chemical engineering and business in college, also finds time to do volunteer work. Aside from volunteering for Relay for Life, he organizes a baseball game each year, along with his mother, for special-needs children.
“Charlie represents the best you can be,” said MHS Head Football Coach Mark Langella. “He really does have the heart of a Giant.”