Auburn University alumni, diabetes advocates to provide keynote at Women’s Philanthropy Board fall event

Published: October 15, 2014
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AUBURN UNIVERSITY – Kendall Simmons, a former Auburn University and NFL standout, and his wife, Celesta, will be the keynote speakers at the Women's Philanthropy Board Fall Luncheon on Friday, Oct. 24, at The Hotel at Auburn University and Dixon Conference Center.

Their noon presentation, "Kendall and Celesta Tackle Diabetes: Finding Your Philanthropic Position," will focus on how Kendall's diagnosis with Type 1 diabetes inspired their current philanthropic passion.

Kendall Simmons played football at Auburn from 1997-2002, earning first team All-SEC honors in 2000 and 2001. Following his graduation in 2001, Simmons was selected in the first round of the 2002 NFL Draft by the Pittsburgh Steelers. As a rookie, he earned the team's annual award for its top rookie, the Joe Greene Great Performance Award.

Simmons was diagnosed with Type 1 diabetes during his second pro season, but with the support of his family, doctors and team, continued to play. In 2004, he received the Ed Block Courage Award, which is awarded annually to NFL players who exemplify commitments to the principles of sportsmanship and courage. One recipient is selected from each team based solely on a vote of their teammates.

Simmons was a part of two Steelers Super Bowl Championship teams before retiring in 2009. He is currently a spokesperson for Novo Nordisk, a global manufacturer of diabetes care and equipment.

Celesta, a 2002 Auburn alumna, is as a civic volunteer with the Lee County Young Leaders Board and a member of the Chette Williams Ministry Board. She is an advisor for the Auburn University Tigerettes and Tiger Hosts and actively volunteers at her children's schools and with local nonprofits. Kendall and Celesta reside in Auburn with their children: Kensley, Laila, Olivia Pearl and Henry Kendall Tyce.

Since 2008, the Simmonses have partnered with Diana Ramage, a former Auburn and LPGA golfer, to host Swing for Diabetes, an annual golf tournament used to raise money to address the needs of people living with diabetes. Money raised this year benefited the Diabetes and Nutrition Center at East Alabama Medical Center in Opelika.

"Kendall and Celesta's story is inspiring and heartwarming. They have worked to cope with a chronic medical condition and have used their experiences to help others," said June Henton, dean of Auburn's College of Human Sciences. "They are using their voices, time, talents and resources to advocate for nonprofits and for individuals who can benefit from their leadership and generosity."

Tickets to the luncheon, sponsored by Alabama Power Company and the Alabama Power Foundation, can be purchased by calling the WPB office at (334) 844-9156 or by visiting Individual tickets are $65. Reserved tables of 10 are available in the following price structure: Gold Table, $800; Platinum Table, $1,000; and Diamond Table, $1,200.

The Women's Philanthropy Board, the flagship division of the Cary Center for the Advancement of Philanthropy and Nonprofit Studies, was established in 2002. The organization has been the inspiration for the development of a minor in philanthropy and nonprofit studies in the College of Human Sciences; Camp iCare, a summer camp for kids ages 6-12; REAL Cents REAL Change, a learning series and summer residential camp for teens ages 13-18; and Volunteers in Philanthropy, a volunteer program for Auburn University students.

Women's Philanthropy Board corporate partners provide funds to assist in underwriting WPB's educational programs and infrastructure. These partners include Alabama Power, Auburn University Outreach, Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Alabama, Charlotte Gaston Interiors, Valorum Wealth Management/UBS, The Flower Store, The Hotel at Auburn University and Dixon Conference Center, Kiplinger, Verizon and Warren Averett.

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