espnW and Toyota Recognize Fifth Class of ‘Everyday Heroes’ at 2017 The espnW: Women + Sports Summit


espnW and Toyota Recognize Fifth Class of ‘Everyday Heroes’ at 2017 The espnW: Women + Sports Summit

Brown Girls Surf, Lady Maverick Wheelchair Basketball, and Somali Girls Rock Receive Toyota Driving Solutions Grant

Last night at the eight annual The espnW: Women + Sports Summit presented by Toyota, espnW and Toyota announced the fifth class of Toyota Everyday Heroes, an award that celebrates individuals making a difference for women and girls in their local communities through sports. Grants in the amount of $10,000 were provided to the organizations honored.

“For five years running, Toyota is proud to celebrate the ‘Everyday Heroes’ and honor these remarkable women who are inspiring change in the world around them,” said Nancy Inouye, national media manager, Toyota Motor North America. “Through their dedication and commitment, we see the positive lasting impact they have made to empower women and girls through sports.”

The 2017 Toyota “Everyday Heroes” are:

Darlene Hunter (Founder, Lady Mavericks Wheelchair Basketball – Dallas, TX)

Darlene Hunter, a Paralympic gold medalist, oversees the Lady Wheelchair Mavericks Basketball team, which is dedicated to improving the health and well-being of physically disabled women and girls. Founded in 1990, the team has for the last four years hosted overnight camps for young disabled girls from across the country.

Fartun Osman (Founder, Somali Girls Rock – St. Paul, MN)

Somali Girls Rock officially started in 2004 and focuses on providing girls from Minnesota’s Somali community – which numbers about 250,000 – opportunities to play soccer, basketball and track & field in an environment where they can feel comfortable. Some SGR graduates have gone on to play sports in college, while others have become doctors, lawyers and community leaders.

Mira Manickam (Founder, Brown Girl Surf – Oakland, CA)

Formally launched in 2014, Brown Girl Surf was created because outside activities and spaces – specifically surf culture – have not been inclusive to women of color. Brown Girl Surf works to build a more diverse, environmentally reverent and joyful women’s surf culture by increasing access to surfing, cultivating community, amplifying the voices of women of color surfers and taking care of the earth.

“We’re honored to spotlight the tremendous work done by these women in their communities,” said Laura Gentile, senior vice president, espnW & Women’s Initiatives. “It takes real conviction and dedication to accomplish what that they have accomplished and drive positive change in the lives of young girls.”

To qualify for a Toyota Everyday Heroes grant, a person and/or organization must:

  • Have been operating as an active, sports-related organization for at least three years;
  • Are currently creating sports opportunities for girls and women in their local communities, and making a meaningful, inspiring impact with quantifiable results;

Last year’s honorees were Courtney Payne Taylor (Founder, Girls Riders Organization), Tracy Pointer (Founder, GROW/GROW Girl) and Beth Devine (Founder, Philly Girls in Motion). In 2016, the honorees were Chrissy Lewis-Summers, founder of Beyond Sticks, and Heidi Boynton, founder of Mini Mermaid Running Club. In 2015, espnW and Toyota honored Chrissy Lewis-Summers, founder of Beyond Sticks, and Heidi Boynton, founder of Mini Mermaid Running Club. The 2014 honorees were Dr. Kimberley S. Clay, Monica Gonzalez and Claire Smallwood. In 2013, espnW and Toyota recognized Barb Lazarus, Justine Siegal and Mobolaji Akidoe as the inaugural recipients.

About espnW

espnW is a global multiplatform brand dedicated to engaging and inspiring women through sports., the brand’s content home, offers total access to female athletes and the sports they play, takes fans inside the biggest events, and captures the biggest trends in sports life/style.  espnW also provides a unique point of view on the sports stories that matter most to women and highlights the crossroads of sports and culture. Founded in July 2010, espnW’s content and voices live across digital, television, radio, films, events, educational platforms and social media. The annual espnW: Women + Sports Summit, now in its seventh year, brings together top athletes and industry leaders for meaningful conversations around women and sports, and is the leading event of its kind in the sports industry.

About Toyota

Toyota (NYSE:TM) has been a part of the cultural fabric in the U.S. and North America for 60 years, and is committed to advancing sustainable, next-generation mobility through our Toyota and Lexus brands. During that time, Toyota has created a tremendous value chain as our teams have contributed to world-class design, engineering, and assembly of more than 33 million cars and trucks in North America, where we operate 14 manufacturing plants (10 in the U.S.) and directly employ more than 46,000 people (more than 36,000 in the U.S.).  Our 1,800 North American dealerships (nearly 1,500 in the U.S.) sold almost 2.7 million cars and trucks (2.45 million in the U.S.) in 2016 – and about 85 percent of all Toyota vehicles sold over the past 15 years are still on the road today.

Toyota partners with community, civic, academic, and governmental organizations to address our society’s most pressing mobility challenges. We share company resources and extensive know-how to support non-profits to help expand their ability to assist more people move more places. For more information about Toyota, visit

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Media Contacts:

Saatchi & Saatchi for Toyota
Kimberly Harms  [email protected]  (702) 234-9517

ESPN / espnW
Tara Chozet  [email protected]  (860) 766-2206

Tara Chozet

I handle PR for ESPN Radio, espnW, technology, remote operations and soccer. I received my undergraduate degree from Dartmouth College and my Master’s degree from the University of Southern California Annenberg School for Communication & Journalism.
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