Sierra del Mar honors San Diego Chargers staff member

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Partner in Mission award presented to Dick Lewis

by Suzi Woodruff Lacey –

Major Elaine Wildman, Major Ron Wildman, Shianette Fernandez, Mike Tolbert, Gary Banks, Jim Fitzpatrick, Jason Perry, County Supervisor Greg Cox, Cheryl Merritt, Dick Lewis, Major Linda Markiewicz [Photo by Suzi Woodruff Lacey]

The Salvation Army Sierra del Mar Division presented its first Partners in Mission Award during National Salvation Army Week at a dinner for the homeless at the downtown Centre City Corps. Divisional Commander Linda Markiewicz presented the award to Dick Lewis, San Diego Chargers director of player outreach and security.

Lewis came to the weekly dinner—as he has every Thursday evening for the past 11 years—bringing food, Chargers players, coaches, staff and boys from a rehab program. Lewis’s goal has always been to serve the homeless, help teenage boys in trouble and keep his players humble and grounded.

Salvation Army Metropolitan Advisory Board Chair Jim Fitzpatrick welcomed everyone to the National Salvation Army Week event. After County Supervisor Greg Cox presented a proclamation, Corps Officer Major Ron Wildman asked Lewis to come to the podium. Following the surprised Lewis were former Chargers safety Jason Perry, Chargers wide receiver Gary Banks and Chargers fullback Mike Tolbert, who came to share their stories of the impact Lewis has made in their lives.

“I started coming to serve every week I could because Dick showed me that this is more important than fame or wealth. This is real and there’s a true need to help the homeless, mentor these young men or serve, sometimes just by throwing the football around with them,” Perry said.

Tolbert said Lewis was constantly helping others in ways that most people didn’t even know about. Banks said Lewis was an inspiration to him and all whose lives he touched.

As Markiewicz presented the award, she said, “This new Partners in Mission Award is meant to recognize a real partner—someone who embodies service, heart, passion and commitment to the Army’s mission of Doing the Most Good for those in need.”

After the meal, Lewis took the players, staff, advisory board, teens and volunteers outside for a powerful—sometimes emotional—fellowship circle where the players shared their personal stories.

Wiping a few tears, Lewis said, “This award is humbling, but I must pass the credit along to the man who funds the dinner and whose wisdom navigated me into this position: Chargers owner Dean Spanos.”

No one was surprised that Lewis didn’t take any credit for himself.

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