The American Red Cross of Northeast Ohio recognized Dee and Jimmy Haslam and the Cleveland Browns last week in its annual Northeast Ohio hero awards for providing one of the biggest early contributions in fighting the COVID-19 pandemic.

As COVID-19 initially began to cloud the lives of Americans in spring 2020, the Haslams provided a $1.5 million donation to support immediate COVID-19 relief efforts in Ohio. The donation, which was made in March 2020 just days after businesses across the nation began to shut down and healthcare workers began to step up, contributed $1 million to the Greater Cleveland COVID-19 Rapid Response Fund. $500,000 was also sent to the Columbus Foundation’s Emergency Response Fund for non-profit organizations that responded to the threat of the virus and faced financial challenges.

That contribution, as well as other actions taken to fight the pandemic over the past year, were why the Haslams and Browns were given the Community Leader Award from the Red Cross “for serving the northeast Ohio community with outstanding leadership, vision and a commitment to the health and well-being of our region.”

“Thank you to all the volunteers, board members and the staff who work tirelessly for the Red Cross,” Dee Haslam said in a video for the awards presentation. “The Red Cross always rises to the occasion when communities are in crisis.

“We know that there are so many organizations and individuals that make our neighborhoods better places to live,” Jimmy added. “We are honored that you chose to recognize us today.”

In addition to their original donation, the Haslams and Browns were also commended for the “Hats Off to Our Heroes” fund, which was launched April 2020 and focused on aiding health care professionals, first responders, educational professionals and other groups who were pivotal to the Northeast Ohio community year-round and valiantly persisted as role models in the face of significant adversity.

The funds were made possible by using 100 percent of proceeds from the Browns’ sales of the new uniforms they revealed ahead of the 2020 season and also helped create a $21,000 contribution to the University Hospitals’ Caregiver Fund last December. Several Browns players also made donations and community efforts of their own throughout the year to assist the region’s overall efforts, and the team also held an annual blood drive in partnership with the Red Cross last summer at FirstEnergy Stadium.

The Red Cross also acknowledged the Browns for their long-term impacts made by “Browns Give Back,” which has assisted Northeast Ohio with a commitment to education and youth football while engaging the community through the team’s signature First and Ten volunteer movement.

Through Browns Give Back, the HOTOH fund and a significant donation made at the beginning of the pandemic, the Haslams and Browns have truly made a difference in supporting the workers who have helped suppress COVID-19 and ease the country back to normalcy.

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