PHOENIX, Ariz. – January 9, 2021 – The Grand Canyon State Gridiron Club (GCSGC) is pleased to announce that Mark Wren, senior at Thatcher High School, has been named as the recipient of the 2020 Impact Award, which is presented to honor Arizona high school football’s most impactful leader through community service.
“We are extremely pleased to announce the Impact Award will permanently share the spotlight with the Ed Doherty Award during the annual Ed Doherty Award Luncheon,” said Don Kile. “The Impact Award holds a special connection to the fundamental reasons for high school football. The candidates for the Impact Award are each leaders in their communities which is an attribute the GCSGC works hard to promote. It is a natural fit for the GCSGC to include the presentation of this meaningful honor during the annual Ed Doherty Award Luncheon and Mark Wren embodies the very spirit of the Impact Award.”
In September 2016, Wren was a 13-year-old student at Thatcher Middle School running for student body president. This is the same year that he began his work on Just Stop It, the anti-bullying campaign that would keep him busy for six years, across five states.
Mark and his family knew firsthand the devastating results of bullying. Mark’s older brother Skyler had endured relentless ridicule and bullying that all ended tragically on April 15, 1999, when Skyler took his own life at the age of 12.
Last year, Mark visited each of the Thatcher kindergarten and first grade classes to read the book “Leave Me Alone” and discuss the value of kindness and the importance of working together to stop the bullying… the likes of which resulted in tragic story of his brother’s life and untimely death.
This year, Mark Wren will graduate from Thatcher High School and embark on his church mission, no doubt spreading the good works of the Just Stop It campaign along the way and sharing the value of his good works towards building a stronger, kinder and more vibrant community for us all.
“Each year, I am amazed at the stories we hear while attending high school football games in every corner of Arizona and at every level of high school football,” said Kile. “At a time when so much negative social media attention gets pressed upon a fantasied controversy or, worse, upon a few players and a few poor choices, it is refreshing to see the positive impact these young men bring to their communities. Mark Wren is a fine example of everything that is right about high school football. He is a dedicated contributor on the field and even more so off.”
Additional recognitions at the Ed Doherty Award Luncheon includes inductions of former Arizona high school football coaches Larry Fetkenhier, Vern Friedli and Jesse Parker into to the Arizona Football Coaches Association Hall of Fame. In addition, Dave Tayson and Lyman Breyer will be recognized by the Arizona Football Officials Association for logging more than 50 years of officiating service to the game. Dr. Javier Cardenas will receive the prestigious Contributor to the Game Awardfor his distinctive administrative services to elevate the game.
About the Impact Award
An Arizona high school football player is nominated for the Impact Award by his teammates, school or district athletic liaison. A committee, which includes members of The Doherty Club, will vote to select from the nominations. The recipient is announced at the annual Ed Doherty Award Luncheon.
About Grand Canyon State Gridiron Club
The Grand Canyon State Gridiron Club is the steward of the Ed Doherty Award and is the most meaningful advocate of high school football in the State of Arizona. The mission of the Grand Canyon State Gridiron Club is to represent Arizona amateur athletics by bringing national attention to the extraordinary qualities of our young people and serve in the pursuit of athletic achievement, academic advancement and greater social affinity.
Programs supported through funds generated by the Ed Doherty Award Luncheon include the annual Ed Doherty Award Luncheon are focused on community building programs, ONE TEAM™ Academic Performance Program, heat exertional illness training and emergency protocols, equipment fitting certifications for high school support staff, and many highly specialized programs designed to create and maintain the physical and mental well-being of high school student athletes in Arizona.
About the Ed Doherty Award
For 34 years, the Ed Doherty Award has been the State of Arizona’s highest individual high school football honor and is awarded annually to the state’s most outstanding high school football player by the Grand Canyon State Gridiron Club. The Ed Doherty Award recognizes the player whose performance best exhibits the pursuit of excellence with integrity. The winner of the award epitomizes great ability combined with diligence, perseverance, and hard work. In addition to on-field performance, the Ed Doherty Award recognizes the well-rounded accomplishments of community involvement, school pride, and academics.
The 2020 Ed Doherty Award Luncheon activated mandatory masks, temperature checks for all guests, restricted ticket availability to ensure a reduced gathering size, and outdoor stadium seating to create and maintain social and physical distancing.