Kentucky tight end C.J. Conrad was named the winner of the 2018 Pop Warner National College Football Award, which is presented to a graduating senior each season who makes a difference in the classroom, the community and on the field and serves as a role model to young athletes.
Conrad is UK’s second-leading receiver with 29 catches for 297 yards and three touchdowns, including the game-winning catch over Missouri as time ran out on the clock earlier this season.
In the award announcement, Conrad was hailed as the “epitome” of Pop Warner’s “fundamental values of sportsmanship, academics and community service.” Since 1929, Pop Warner has been one of the nation’s most recognizable youth football organizations.
Pop Warner specifically praised Conrad’s “Tuesday’s with C.J.” program in which he visits Kentucky Children’s Hospital each week to hang out with patients and spend time with their families.
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“We are honored to have C.J. come to the hospital and take his time just to see patients,” Kentucky Children’s Hospital Child Life Coordinator Jennifer Guilliams said in the press release. “I had a mom tell me her daughter didn’t want to get out of bed for two days until she heard C.J. was coming and she walked down the hall to meet him. Not only does his visit brighten their day but it provides them with motivation to continue to get better and we couldn’t do that ourselves. As doctors, nurses and staff, we can only do so much. C.J. coming in is an inspiration to our children, an inspiration to our staff and we all get excited for his visits. What makes it even more special is that he does this out of the kindness of his heart.”
“This starts my day off really well, get away from football for a little while, see these kids, see what they’re going through really helps me get through the week, what I consider a tough day,” Conrad said earlier this season about his weekly hospital visits.
“These kids have it much harder and to put a smile on their face is everything I want to do.”
Conrad, a member of the 2017 SEC Academic Honor Roll and Dean’s List, is on track to graduate Dec. 14 with a degree in communications, according to the release.