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Farmington Hills native and Michigan Volleyball Gatorade State Player of the Year, Jess Mruzik, awarded The ChadTough Foundation with a $1,000 grant to help fund Diffuse Intrinsic Pontine Glioma (DIPG) research. Mruzik, a junior at Farmington Hills Mercy, is committed to play volleyball for the University of Michigan’s 2020 class.

Sports have seen a double-digit decline over the past decade, largely due to tighter budgets in communities, but young people that participate in sports are found to be happier, healthier and better students. Gatorade Play It Forward empowers Gatorade Player of the Year recipients across the country to award local or national sports organizations with grants, so they can continue helping young athletes enjoy the benefit of sports.

“I chose to donate to the ChadTough Foundation, because of a young Michigan man,” said Mruzik. “As a future Wolverine, I wanted to give back to a community where I will be lucky enough to call home. I can only imagine what Chad and his family endured. However, I do know it was an inspiration to us all and the creation of the foundation to try and prevent other children from going through that was something I want to whole heartedly support. As a 5-year old, Chad forever changed the world and I can only hope to impact the world as much as he did.”

“It’s amazing to know that Chad inspired this young lady to want to give back and choose ChadTough,” said Tammi Carr, Co-Founder of The ChadTough Foundation. “She’s an incredible athlete and it’s going to be exciting to watch her play at Michigan in years to come.”

All 607 Gatorade State Player of the Year recipients are awarded a grant to donate to the organization of their choosing. Each Player of the Year can also submit an essay about why their organization is deserving of a Spotlight Grant, which is a larger monetary award. Gatorade awards 12 Spotlight Grants, one for each sport recognized by the Player of the Year program.

To keep up to date on the latest happenings, become a fan of Gatorade Player of the Year on Facebook and follow the conversation on Twitter #GatoradePOY. For more on Gatorade Play It Forward, the Gatorade Player of the Year, including nomination information, a complete list of past winners and the announcement of the Gatorade National Player of the Year, visit

About Gatorade Player of the Year

The Gatorade Player of the Year is an athletic award program that annually recognizes student-athletes not only for outstanding athletic excellence, but also high standards of academic achievement and exemplary character in 12 different sports: football, boys and girls basketball, baseball, boys and girls soccer, softball, boys and girls track & field, girls volleyball and boys and girls cross country. The Gatorade Player of the Year award is the most prestigious award in high school sports. In existence for more than 30 years, past winners include Peyton Manning, Abby Wambach, Karl-Anthony Towns, Derek Jeter and many other sports icons.

Play It Forward is Gatorade’s cause marketing platform, which empowers every one of the Gatorade Player of the Year award winners to choose a local or national youth sport organization to receive a $1,000 grant from Gatorade. Gatorade State Players of the Year then have the opportunity to submit an essay explaining why the organization they chose is deserving of one of twelve Spotlight Grants, which awards $10,000 to the organization.