Emmitt Smith Celebrity Invitational Honors Jason Witten

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Jason Witten‘s whirlwind week began when he announced his retirement from the Dallas Cowboys to join ESPN’s Monday Night Football booth and capped it off by receiving the prestigious Roger Staubach Award at the 9th Annual Emmitt Smith Celebrity Invitational.

Witten received the award on Friday evening at the Emmitt Smith Rising Stars Gala at the Omni Hotel at The Star in Frisco.

The Roger Staubach award recognizes sports and or entertainment professionals who positively impact the lives of children by living courageously and creating opportunities for today’s youth. This is the only award to be named in Staubach’s honor other than the one established at his alma mater, the U.S. Naval Academy.

Past recipients include Magic Johnson, Larry Fitzgerald and Dr. Phil and Robin McGraw.

Friday evening began with the red carpet festivities that featured luminaries such as former Major League Baseball stars Gary Sheffield, Kenny Lofton and Torii Hunter.

Hunter and his wife Katrina were honorary chairs for the event.

“My wife Katrina and I have been watching Emmitt and Pat’s charity from afar and we love what they are doing with our young men and women and we wanted to be a part of it,” Hunter said. “I have traveled my whole career, but have lived here for 20 years so we love to jump in and help when we can.

“This event gives kids a chance to be creative in life and give them scholarships, clothes, school supplies,” Hunter continued. “Why wouldn’t you want to be a part of it.”

Former NFL stars Thurman Thomas, Curtis Martin, Andre Reed and John Randle were also on hand for the festivities.

“Emmitt has been a great friend of mine for a long, long time,” Thomas said. “Before this event even started, I used to go to his events in Pensacola.

“Obviously playing against him in Super Bowls, he’s always been a great friend and we’ve always stayed in contact. It’s awesome to see what he’s doing and I’m always happy to be here to support him.”

Thomas also had thoughts on another former Cowboys legend, Jason Witten.

“When I see him, I want to give him a big hug,” Thomas said. “He’s meant so much to this organization and been such an inspiration to a lot of people. The things people have said about him this week speak volumes about him both on and off the field.”

Now in its 9th year, the Emmitt Smith Celebrity Invitational has raised more than $6.2 million in support of Pat & Emmitt Smith Charities and supported more than 150 charities in North Texas, including 7,000 Dallas ISD students and families through their annual back to school program and hurricane relief efforts. Proceeds from the weekend go to Pat & Emmitt Smith Charities, (PESC), a 501(c)(3) public charity that creates and funds unique educational experiences and enrichment opportunities for North Texas children.

The gala kicked off the big weekend that also included the golf tournament on Saturday at TPC Craig Ranch in McKinney.

For more information, visit emmittsmithcelebrityinvitational.com