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Lee receives Humanitarian Award

Fred Lee and Kevin McDonald

Bulls senior Fred Lee receives the Humanitarian Award from Idaho Potato Bowl Executive Director Kevin McDonald during Thursday's Humanitarian Awards Dinner. Photo: David J. Hill

By DAVID J. HILL

Published December 20, 2013

“It’s always an honor to be recognized for the things I do outside of football. That’s where I really pride myself — inspiring other people to be great in life in whatever they decide to do.”
Fred Lee, UB football player

Fred Lee, a senior wide receiver known for his good hands on the field and his deeds off of it, was named UB’s recipient of the Humanitarian Award Thursday evening in the Boise Centre.

The Humanitarian Awards Dinner is held each year as part of the events surrounding the Famous Idaho Potato Bowl, and dates back to when the game was known as the Humanitarian Bowl.

One recipient from each of the participating Potato Bowl teams is honored with the Humanitarian Award. Paul Pitts III was the San Diego State recipient.

Lee, who hails from Chester, S.C., devotes his time generously in the Buffalo community. His community service has included mentoring at-risk high school kids, volunteering at day care centers, speaking at local schools and reading to kids. In addition, Lee has spent time at the Buffalo veterans’ hospital and has volunteered with the Ronald McDonald House, the Red Cross and the Big Brother/Big Sisters program.

Lee said he’s humbled to represent UB. “It’s always an honor to be recognized for the things I do outside of football. That’s where I really pride myself — inspiring other people to be great in life in whatever they decide to do,” he said after receiving the award.

His Bulls teammates gave him a standing ovation when his name was called. “It’s a greater feeling than scoring a touchdown and having the whole stadium erupt and cheer, knowing that my teammates really respect me to that level,” he said.

Lee credited his mom for instilling in him the values he holds today. “Growing up, my mom was a key factor in my life. I struggled dealing with being bullied and talked about, and I was really depressed and sad at times, but she put belief in me that I could believe in myself. Her doing that for me, and now being able to pay that back and give it to so many other people, that means a lot to me. I do it just to do it, and I’m happy to be able to represent the University at Buffalo.”

Lee’s community service also was recognized earlier in the season. He was named one of 11 Football Bowl Subdivision members of the Allstate Insurance Company and American Football Coaches Association Good Works Team. It is considered one of the most prestigious off-the-field honors in college sports.

The Humanitarian Awards Dinner also featured a trivia contest pitting the UB and San Diego State defensive lines against each other in a battle of the brains. UB won.

“It was fun. We beat them 4-2,” said Xavier Davis, a freshman defensive lineman from Atlanta. “It was all weird true or false questions, like could you wipe your sunglasses off a potato if it’s freezing.” The answer is true, and the Bulls got it correct.

“We know our potatoes,” Davis said.