For the Chiefs January 6th playoff game against the Tennessee Titans, Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Kansas City (Blue KC) and the Chiefs selected Sporting KC and U.S. National Team defender Matt Besler as the Blue KC Chiefs Kingdom Champion. Prior to kickoff, Besler received on-field recognition and conducted the ceremonial first pass to Bill Maas before touring the Chiefs broadcast booth and enjoying the game.
Since joining Sporting KC in 2009, Besler, a native of Overland Park, has become well known in the community for his consistent and dedicated work with local charitable organizations. Among Besler's most championed causes are helping families affected by cancer, inspiring local students and celebrating the area's teachers.
"I learned at a young age to be grateful for what you have and appreciate where you come from," said Besler, the 2012 MLS Defender of the Year and first Kansas native to compete in a World Cup. "Kansas City is a special community, and one of the best aspects of our city is how everyone helps each other out."
Often found gracing the stages of local school auditoriums and interacting with students, Besler enjoys sharing messages of leadership, pursuing goals, overcoming obstacles and chasing dreams with young men and women. He also helps celebrate outstanding teachers and coaches for the work they do on a daily basis to impact the lives of kids.
"People have helped me just as much as I've tried to help them," said Besler, a 2016 MLS All-Star. "That's why I try and give back as much as I can—because that's was Kansas Citians do."
One of Besler's favorite charitable events is the annual Braden's Hope calendar shoot, held in partnership between Sporting KC and the Victory Project at Children's Mercy Park each May. The calendar features Sporting KC players and "Hope Heroes"—children who are currently battling or have survived cancer—who pose together for the calendar photos and hang out together for the day at Children's Mercy Park. The event hits particularly close to home for Besler, who became a father in 2016.
"Now that I'm a father myself, working with kids is more powerful than ever," said Besler. "During the calendar shoot, I love spending the afternoon with my 'buddy' and showing them around our stadium. The look on their face when they first walk into our locker room is priceless."
Also known for his work with the Leukemia & Lymphoma Society (LLS), Besler earned recognition from MLS for his participation in the 2012 LLS Man of the Year campaign, for which he raised funds for blood cancer research. In 2014, Besler also earned Downtown Marriott Sportsman of the Year honors from the Kansas City Sports Commission for his excellence both on and off the field.
"Matt Besler represents what is good about the Kansas City community," said Christina Lively, Blue KC's Department Vice President of Marketing and Communications. "He's an incredible role model for Kansas City youth, and he sets a positive example by actively working to make our community a better place. We're proud to honor him as a Blue KC Chiefs Kingdom Champion."
To nominate a local hero like Matt Besler to be recognized as a Blue KC Chiefs Kingdom Champion, visit chiefs.com/bluekc.