Nate Boyer to receive 2012 Disney Spirit Award at Disney World

Nate Boyer, University of Texas football player, will receive the 2012 Disney Spirit Award at Walt Disney World Resort.

Nate Boyer, University of Texas football player, will receive the 2012 Disney Spirit Award at Walt Disney World Resort.

University of Texas football player Nate Boyer has been chosen as this year’s recipient of theDisney Spirit Award, Disney Sports announced on Nov. 19.

Given each year to college football’s most inspiration figure, the award will be given to Boyer during The Home Depot College Football Awards. The event will be held at the Walt Disney World Resort on Dec. 6.

Boyers earned a Bronze Star his service with the U.S. Army Special Armed Forces, joining the military at age 20 in response to Sept. 11, 2011 terrorist attacks. A Green Beret, he spent six year in active duty.

Prior to that, Boyer coached autistic children through therapy sessions. Later on, he provided aid to refugee camps in the Darfur region in Sudan.

“I’d really like to thank Disney for this recognition,” Boyer said in a press statement. “Looking at the list of past recipients, I know the military has really had a presence with it, and I think it’s a great recognition. Sacrifice is such a big part of it, and that’s maybe the most inspirational thing there is. What they’ve given, whether it’s their lives or their time and service and being away from their families, it’s incredible. I may be receiving this honor, but it’s really going to all of them.”

After he complete his enlistment, Boyer tried out for the University of Texas football teams, having watched the Longhorns games while stationed in the Middle East. He had never played football, but the then-29-year-old earned a walk-on spot as a long snapper (a specialized center position).

“Nate’s a young guy who decides what he wants and goes for it and defies all odds,” said Texas head coach Mack Brown in a statement. “He also is a patriot because he cares about our country, and when some things happened in our country around 9/11, he decided he wanted to go help keep our children and our grandchildren safe, and once again, he defied all odds, he becomes a Green Beret, and today is still working for our special forces. For Nate to stand up and honor us in so many different ways and tell us about the war and what it meant to him and why he is a patriot who fights for our country has been really, really special for all of us. He’s a giver, not a taker, and that’s one of the biggest messages he’s sent.”

Now a sophomore, Boyer has become one of two walk-ons to earn a scholarship. His military background informs his on- and off-field experiences, where he demonstrates focus and commitment. He is often referred to by teammates as “Army” and “America,” counts Pat Tillman as his hero, and before football games carries the American flag onto the field.

In November, Boyer was named 2012 First-Team Academic All-Big 12. He is a member of the Athletics Director’s Honor Roll with a 4.0 GPA.

Of the field and out of the classroom, Boyer makes regular visits to the Dell Children’s Medical Center, along with his teammates. Still active with the Texas National Guard, he spends his summers serving the country on missions abroad.

Boyer receives Disney Spirit Award in Walt Disney World ceremony

To recognize his accomplishments and attitude, Boyer will be presented with the 2012 Disney Spirit Award during The Home Depot College Football Awards at Walt Disney World Resort on Dec. 6. The awards show will take place at the Atlantic Dance Hall at Disney’s BoardWalk.

The 22nd annual awards show – hosted by ESPN’s Chris Fowler, Lee Corso, Kirk Herbstreit, Desmond Howard and Samantha Steele – is scheduled to take place from 7:30-9:30 p.m. EST. It will be televised live on ESPN.

“A humanitarian, a volunteer, a soldier and a teammate; Nate Boyer exemplifies the spirit of helping others,” said Faron Kelley, Disney Sports Executive and the individual who will present Boyer with the award. “Additionally, his will and determination have pushed him to be an inspiration, whether it’s on the gridiron, in the classroom or upon the battlefield.”

Boyer will be the 17th recipient of the Disney Spirit Award. Honorees may be individuals or groups. The Disney Spirit Awards list includes the Carson Tinker and University of Alabama (2011) for its efforts to aid tornado victims; Green Bay Packer D.J. Williams (2010), who drew from her personal history to inspire others; New York Giants player Mark Herzlich (2009), who overcame a rare form of bone cancer and raised more than $120,000 in donations for cancer-related causes; and New York Jets’ Tim Tebow (2008), whose humanitarian efforts helped people in the U.S. and abroad.

The Home Depot College Football Awards joins a number of other events held at the Walt Disney World Resort on Dec. 6. That day is when Magic Kingdom’s New Fantasyland is scheduled to officially open, Epcot’s Test Track will re-open, and Pirates of the Caribbean: The Legend of Captain Jack Sparrow will officially debut at Disney’s Hollywood Studios.