This year's presentation of the Chris Canning Award of Excellence takes place in San Jose, Calif., site of the very first presentation in 2005, at the 2014 U.S. National Championships. It was adopted in conjunction with the USAT National Awards program in 2005 and was in tribute to Christopher James Canning, who was an accomplished martial artist and a world class human being. This year's presentation will mark the 10th time an outstanding and internationally acclaimed martial artist has been honored with the award. In addition to the martial arts achievement, these individuals have to meet the other high standards of the award, which include academic excellence, giving unselfishly to others and demonstrating the personal attributes of a first-class individual. The Chris Canning Award and its standards of excellence were founded in the accomplishments of its namesake, what he represented in and out of the martial arts and his approach to meeting life's challenges— with a resolve to prevail, while maintaining honor and respect for those he was involved each day.
One of the highest honors given in Chris’ memory was the opportunity to recognize other outstanding martial artists who are also world class human beings. This honor is represented by the presentation of the Chris Canning Award of Excellence each year at the USAT National Championships. Should you know of an outstanding young martial artist deserving of such an honor and recognition, please submit their information to USA Taekwondo in care of Kevin Loughery, Manager of Communications (Kevin.Loughery@usa-taekwondo.us) on or before June 1, 2014. The information sent should include: documented academic achievement; a martial arts resume indicating years of training, rank, medal placements at state, national and international competitions; national and international teams; letters of recommendation indicating how they have given back to their community through project work or activities; and describing the personal attributes of the candidate. A candidate must be 14-24 years-old, be an active member of USA Taekwondo for at least one year, be a competitor at the 2014 USAT National Championships, be in attendance for the award presentation and be a first degree black belt or higher. The person making the submittal should include all their contact information in case a clarification is necessary on information submitted. Nominators must be at least 21 years of age.
From the submittals received this year, there will be a number of martial artists selected as finalists and they will be announced prior to the event. In addition, they will be presented an award plaque indicating their status as finalists. Immediately following those awards, the winner will be announced and presented the Chris Canning Award of Excellence trophy and the $1,000 scholarship. Additionally, the Chris Canning Foundation will supply the winner with a Kwon uniform. The winner will become the 10th Ambassador of the Award, providing yet another role model to be emulated as part of the living legacy.
Previous winners of this honor are: Aimee Callison, 2005; Maia Eubanks, 2006; Jermaine James, 2007; Paige McPherson, 2008; Matt Dunlap, 2009; Olie Burton, 2010; Haley Kong, 2011; Adrienne Ivey, 2012 ; and Cheyenne Lewis, 2013.
About Chris Canning
Chris excelled in all aspects of his life and martial arts. In school, he was an honor student, in the choir, band and was heavily involved in athletics, playing football, basketball and baseball as a starter and captain. He carried his energy into the field of music, playing classical piano, guitar and winning a state championship playing drums. In his community, Chris helped the homeless by collecting food and clothing, helped deliver Meals on Wheels to those restricted to their home and was involved with many other community projects to help the needy and elderly. His love of animals was demonstrated by helping at an animal shelter where he cared for and found homes for abandoned animals and brought strays to the shelter for future placement. His friendship was sincere, he protected weaker kids from the “bullies” at school and came to the aid of those feeling depressed. Humor was his vehicle to enrich the lives of those he was involved with each day. His greatest satisfaction came from being there when needed and making a difference. In martial arts, he was a member of 11 different state teams, won 15 state and three national titles and was an AAU Taekwondo All American. In addition, he was a member of the 1999 U.S. Elite Team training and was invited back by the U.S. National Team Coach, Han Won Lee, to the 2001 U.S. Gold Team Training Camp at the Olympic Training Center. Finally, he was selected by the United States National Taekwondo Federation as Illinois’ “Athlete and Student of the Year” and was named “Athlete of the Week” 5 times in three different cities in Illinois. As a result of his accomplishments and what he represented, since his passing, Chris has been honored with awards and tributes over 200 times globally by national, international, and world martial arts organizations, halls of fame, grandmasters, the USOC, Olympic coaches and team members, the Youth Assembly at the United Nations, the President of the United States, the Points of Light Foundation, national humanitarian associations and the media, to name a few.
The Chris Canning Foundation, which is the organization that coordinates the Awards Program, received its highest honor when it was given a "Special Recognition Award" by USA Taekwondo and approved by its Board of Directors in conjunction with the 2013 National Awards.
A 501c3 Chris Canning Foundation has been established to help support the recognition program. Any individual or corporation wishing to make a contribution and help sustain the awards program, please mail a contribution to Chris Canning Foundation, Scott State Bank, PO Box 107, Maroa, Illinois, 61756.