From an outstanding number of nominations, four finalists have been selected for the 10th Annual Chris Canning Award of Excellence. The winner will be announced and presented the award during a ceremony at the National Championships on Saturday, July 5, 2014 in San Jose, California. The four finalists, in alphabetical order, for this year's award are: Zachery Budde, Logan Gerick, Brandon Ivey, and Connor Wilson.
The Chris Canning Award of Excellence was adopted in honor and tribute to Christopher James Canning, an accomplished martial artist and world class human being. Chris was an honor student, a star athlete for his school in football, basketball, and baseball, a classical pianist, worked at an animal shelter, and helped the homeless and needy. In just 4 years as a martial artist, he earned his first degree black belt in Taekwondo, was a member of 11 state teams, won over 30 medals at the national and state level including 15 state and 3 national titles, was an AAU All American, member of the US Elite team training at the Olympic Training Center, invited to the US Gold Team training and was 5 times athlete of the week and Illinois' USNTF athlete and student of the year.
Chris has been awarded the Legacy of Service honor at the Youth Assembly at the United Nations, honored by the President of the United States with the Gold Student Service Award Medal, U.S. Senator Richard Durbin made a speech in tribute to what he accomplished and represented on the Senate floor in Washington, and the Points of Light Foundation honored him with the President's Award for his community service. In addition, he has been inducted into the U. S. and World Martial Arts Halls of Fame and 12 other International Halls of Fame, has 8 regional, national and international awards given out, in his name, with recipients coming from the US, Canada, Germany, China, Costa Rica, and England. He has also received 18 special recognition awards from martial arts legends and organizations worldwide. The Chris Canning Award of Excellence, given by the USAT and the Chris Canning Foundation, is the most prestigious award given in his name. At the 2008 Senior National Championships, a certificate of honor was given by the Chief Executive Officer of the United States Olympic Committee to the family for Chris living his life as a representative of the Olympic Ideals and for his personal, academic, artistic, and athletic excellence. In 2013, the USAT Board of Directors approved a Special Recognition Award to be given to the Foundation and Chris' awards program.
The Chris Canning Award of Excellence is presented to the one martial artists who most exhibits what Chris represented and achieved. He or she has excelled academically, gained national and international acclaim as a martial arts competitor, given back to the community they live in and demonstrated the same personal attributes as the awards namesake. This year's award will be presented by Master John Holloway, USAT Board of Directors, and Miss Haley Kong, 2011 winner of the Award, with the finalist receiving their award plaques from Jason Poos, National Coach. Other Previous winners of the Award of Excellence include: Cheyenne Lewis (2013), Adrienne Ivey (2012), Haley Kong (2011), Olie Burton (2010), Matt Dunlap (2009), Paige McPherson (2008), Jermaine James (2007), Maia Eubanks (2006), and Aimee Callison (2005).