TOLEDO OFFENSIVE LINEMAN TO BE HONORED AT AWARDS SHOW IN ST. LOUIS ON NOV. 20 AND IN NATIONAL BROADCAST AIRING ON CBS CHRISTMAS DAY
ST. LOUIS – May 13, 2021 – An inspiring gesture of caring and kindness has earned Lavel Dumont one of the most important awards in sports. The University of Toledo offensive lineman has been selected to receive the Musial Award for extraordinary sportsmanship. He will be honored alongside other “good sports” from around the nation at the Musial Awards in St. Louis on Nov. 20.
The Musial Awards – presented by Maryville University – celebrate the year’s greatest moments of sportsmanship and those in sports who embody class and character. The national event and its awards are named for St. Louis Cardinals legend Stan Musial, a beloved baseball superstar and civic icon who personified sportsmanship.
Dumont is being recognized for the special friendship he initiated with a Toledo teen and the impact he has made. Last summer, when driving from his apartment to campus, he would often notice Wyntr Knisely throwing a football by himself in his yard. One day, Dumont decided to pull over, introduce himself and invite Knisely to a Toledo football game. From there, a heartwarming bond developed between the 6-4, 300-pound lineman and the then 15-year-old football fan.
Unbeknownst to Dumont when they met, Knisely has experienced several life challenges. He has a heart condition that required numerous surgeries, resulting in some developmental delays. He also moved to Toledo just before the COVID-19 pandemic began. So meeting and making new friends has not been easy. All of that made Dumont’s spontaneous decision to say hello and befriend a kid he didn’t know even more meaningful.
He and Knisely have become close pals, getting together to play catch and video games at Knisely’s home. They regularly are in touch through texts, phone calls and social media. When Knisely turned 16, Dumont made a surprise appearance at his birthday party and brought along several of his teammates to help celebrate. (An article providing additional background on their friendship can be found on the Toledo Athletics website at https://utrockets.com/news/2021/4/14/lavel-dumont-builds-a-friendship-out-of-shared-love-for-football.aspx.)
“Lavel’s kindheartedness, humility and sheer decency embody the spirit of the Musial Awards” said Marc Schreiber, executive producer of the Musial Awards. “As with many of our honorees, Lavel felt he was simply doing the right thing. That of course is true, but his friendship with Wyntr also serves as a wonderful example of what kindness and selflessness can do. We admire the initiative Lavel took on his own to do the right thing and the genuineness he has exhibited in bringing hope and happiness to a young fan. Lavel is most deserving of an award that stands for class, character and sportsmanship.”
“I was surprised, but extremely grateful and honored to be chosen for the Musial Award,” Dumont said. “It’s a blessing to be acknowledged in this way, but the biggest blessing is being able to spread joy and kindness, and meet a new friend. Wyntr and I really bond through our love of the game of football, and I feel that’s really what it’s all about.”
In addition to being honored at the Musial Awards in St. Louis, the story of Dumont and Knisely’s friendship will be celebrated in the Musial Awards broadcast, which airs nationally on CBS on Christmas Day (time TBD). On Saturday (May 15), a crew from the Musial Awards will be in Toledo to conduct interviews and begin production on the segment honoring Dumont. This is the third year the Musial Awards will be on CBS.
Dumont joins a prestigious list of individuals who have been recognized with the Musial Award. Recent recipients include the late Hank Aaron (honored in 2020 with the Stan Musial Lifetime Achievement Award); Baseball Hall of Famers Joe Torre, Cal Ripken Jr., and Jim Thome; Olympians Jackie Joyner-Kersee, Bart Conner and Nadia Comaneci; golf legend Arnold Palmer; Basketball Hall of Famer Tamika Catchings; NASCAR drivers Bubba Wallace and Carl Edwards; sportscaster Ernie Johnson; and Loyola University Basketball Chaplain Sister Jean Dolores Schmidt (99-years-young when she received the Musial Award).
The Musial Awards is produced by the St. Louis Sports Commission and the National Sportsmanship Foundation, a charitable nonprofit organization. The event takes place annually on the Saturday before Thanksgiving at the historic 3,000-seat Stifel Theatre in Downtown St. Louis. In addition to keeping Stan The Man’s legacy alive, the mission of the Musial Awards is to encourage kindness, selflessness, integrity and civility in sports and society – and to inspire people across the nation to be good sports. Since 2011, Maryville University has served as the presenting sponsor. The school’s involvement, leadership and generosity have helped make the Musial Awards the most inspiring night in sports®.