ELIZABETHTON — The City of Elizabethton, in partnership with the Elizabethton/Carter County Chamber of Commerce, will honor Elizabethton native and Dallas Cowboys tight end Jason Witten for his athletic accomplishments and philanthropy during an event on Friday, June 21, at 2 p.m. The ceremony is free and open to the public and will be held at the Covered Bridge Festival main stage located on East Elk Avenue near the Soldiers’ Monument.
In addition to declaring June 21 annually as “Jason Witten Day,” city officials will present Witten with a key to the city, as well as unveil new signage in recognition of his success both on and off the field. Witten also will present a $5,000 scholarship to a recent high school graduate during the ceremony.
Witten, a 2000 alumnus of Elizabethton High School and standout player for the University of Tennessee, has made a name for himself as one of the top tight ends in all of football, as well as one of the NFL’s most generous players. In 10 seasons with the Dallas Cowboys, Witten has become the team’s all-time leader in receptions, set the NFL record for catches in a season by a tight end and has been selected to the Pro Bowl seven times.
But Witten’s accomplishments off the field are perhaps even more impressive. Through his own charitable foundation, Jason Witten’s SCORE Foundation, Witten has launched numerous outreach programs and funded several new building projects in Texas and Tennessee.
Locally, Witten hosts a free football camp for approximately 1,200 kids each June. Now in its 11th year, the camp, one of the largest free football camps in America, is held at Elizabethton’s Dave Rider Field, which is named in honor of Witten’s grandfather. In addition, Witten and his wife, Michelle, a registered nurse and also an Elizabethton native, funded the construction of a brand new Jason Witten-themed emergency waiting room at The Children’s Hospital at Johnson City Medical Center, as well as the Jason Witten Learning Center at the Elizabethton’s Boys & Girls Club.
Witten has received numerous accolades during his career. Most recently, in 2012, he became the first player ever to win the Bart Starr Award and the Walter Payton NFL Man of the Year Award in the same season. The Bart Starr Award is given annually to an NFL player who best exemplifies outstanding character and leadership in the home, on the field and in the community. The Walter Payton NFL Man of the Year award is given annually by the NFL in honor of a player’s volunteer and charity work, as well as excellence on the field. In 2010, Witten was honored as the Pro Football Weekly Humanitarian of the Year.
Jason and Michelle, along with their two sons, C.J. and Cooper, and a daughter, Landry, reside in Southlake, Texas.
In the event of inclement weather, the event will be held at the Elizabethton High School gymnasium.