St. Louis, Mo. (Sept. 27, 2022)– Marcus Ardel Taulauniu Mariota, 29, a native of Honolulu, Hawaii and quarterback with the Atlanta Falcons, was honored by JCI USA (United States Junior Chamber) as a member of the 2022 class Ten Out Standing Young Americans. Along with the other members of the 2022 TOYA class, mentor Lulu Lulu, Jr. received the award on Mariota’s behalf at the 84th annual black-tie awards ceremony on Saturday, September 17, 2022, as part of the JCI USA Annual Meeting at the Founders Inn & Spa in Virginia Beach, Virginia.
The Ten Outstanding Young Americans program (TOYA) is one of the oldest and most prestigious recognition programs in America. Annually since 1938, JCI USA has sought out young men and women (under the age of 40) who best exemplify the finest attributes of America’s youthful achievers. Previous honorees include Bill Clinton (1979), John F Kennedy (1946), Dick Cheney (1976), Kurt Warner (2010), Wayne Newton (1977), Gayle Sayers (1969), Elvis Presley (1970), Michele Tafoya (2001), and Ruth Riley (2014).
While playing with the Tennessee Titans, Marcus got injured and was benched. During this time, he was able to step back and reflect. Football took so much of his identity. Going back to his foundation helped him focus on what matters. “At the end of the day, God puts us through trials and tribulations to allow us to relate to others so we can lend a helping hand.”
By focusing on creating positive change in the community, Marcus was able to accomplish many community outreach projects through a charity he created, called the Motiv8 Foundation.
In 2020, he led an initiative to distribute 1,000 meals daily while public schools were closed. Public school students 18 years old and under were able to pick up breakfast and lunch at Kauluwela and Palolo Elementary Schools. Prepared meals were placed on tables outside for students to pick up to avoid physical contact between volunteers and students. A total of 1,000 meals – 300 breakfasts and 300 lunches at Kauluwela and 200 breakfasts and 200 lunches at Palolo – were distributed to students daily.
The Motiv8 Foundation also partnered with Sweet Cheeks Winery in Eugene, Oregon. The Foundation does not only support youth but also shelters for homeless individuals, animal shelters, as well as frontline medical professionals in hospitals. The Foundation provided more than 500 meals for frontline nurses and healthcare workers, and housing for survivors of domestic violence, more than 5,000 meals to homeless shelters, more than 1,000 meals for students while schools were shut down due to COVID-19, and more than 1,000 pounds of dog food to Oahu SPCA and Humane Society.
In 2019, Motiv8 sponsored a job fair for people experiencing homelessness. Participants were able to interview with 12 companies/service providers, take a shower, get a haircut from stylists from Paul Mitchell, get work clothes from Shirts of Aloha, and lunch from The Rainbow Drive Inn. The goal was to find one person a job and change their life; however, at least five people received job offers and as many as five more are possible!
Marcus joined forces with the Mayor’s Office of Nashville to provide 2,500 school supply packed backpacks to deserving students in the Nashville metro area. Marcus provided the Nike backpacks and school supplies for the event.
Motiv8 Foundation coordinated a youth art contest to be part of an awareness and fundraising campaign for Neurodegenerative Disease Awareness (ALS Therapy Development Institute).
Motiv8 worked with King’s Way Christian School in Vancouver, Washington. The school’s art program ran a contest that 60 students entered leading to 5 finalists who were able to put their design on Marcus’ game shoe to be worn during the My Cleats My Cause game.
At an early age, his family taught him the value of serving others. He remembers volunteering with his family at Hawaii’s housing project and seeing the look on children’s faces by just having basic resources – books, pencils, and clothing.
His Motiv8 Foundation continues to do various events, etc., in the community. In 2022, they implemented the first Motiv8 Lab at the Spaulding Clubhouse of the Boys & Girls Club of Hawaii. Partnering with Office Depot to install 5 computer stations and a 50” TV with Zoom Learning Center capabilities. The Lab will also have a printer, scanner, and video editing software. This is the pilot lab and based on tweets and recommendations, our goal is to set up the labs in various BGC and other organizations through Hawaii, Oregon, Las Vegas, and Atlanta.
The JCI USA 2022 Ten Outstanding Young Americans are:
- Colmon Elridge III, 40, CEO, Kentucky Democratic Party, Frankfort, Kentucky.
- Michael H. Esposito, 27, Project Manager, Healthcare and Supply Chain Management, Charlotte, North Carolina
- Lily Hevesh, 24, Domino Artist, Boston, Massachusetts
- Ty Johnson, 24, NFL Runningback, Cumberland, Maryland
- Chelsea A. Kay, 37, Insurance Operations Manager, Canyon Country, California
- Jennifer A. Lawlor, 32, Academic Researcher, Lawrence, Kansas
- Marcus Ardel Taulauniu Mariota, 29, NFL Quarterback, Atlanta, Georgia
- Olia Morales, Military Officer, United States Air Force, San Antonio, Texas
- Rachael A. Wruble, OD, 38, Optometrist, CFO, Belmont, North Carolina
- Kenzi Pewitt, 32, United States Air Force, Nashville, Tennessee
About JCI USA
JCI USA was founded in 1920 as the original member of the Junior Chamber Movement. Our mission is to develop opportunities that empower young people to create positive change. Since that time millions of men and women have joined our ranks and have gone on to become successful in business, community, and many other walks of life. JCI USA currently operates in nearly 500 communities with more than 12,500 members. JCI USA is part of Junior Chamber International (JCI), which consists of close to 200,000 members in nearly 120 countries worldwide. To learn more about JCI USA, visit www.jciusa.org.