Hulk Hogan Receives Award From NIGA

Bill Behrens

NIGA presents Hulk Hogan with humanitarian award

LAS VEGAS, N.V. â<80>” Wrestling legend Hulk Hogan is best known for body slamming opponents and pile driving foes. However, Hoganâ<80><99>s humanitarian efforts outside of the ring were recently honored by the National Indian Gaming Association (NIGA) at the 2008 Global Gaming Expo (G2E) held at the Las Vegas Convention Center in Las Vegas, Nevada.

Dreamseekers Foundation Co-Founders Ernie Stevens, Jr. and Hulk Hogan pose with a fist at the NIGA/ID Interactive Booth, as they unveil the Hulkamania Experience during Global Gaming Expo 2008 in Las Vegas, Nevada.

Hogan received The National Indian Gaming Associationâ<80><99>s â<80><9c>Humanitarian Awardâ<80> for his work on behalf of the Dreamseekers Foundation. NIGA chairman and Dreamseekers co-founder, Ernie Stevens Jr., joined NIGA Executive Director, Mark Van Norman , NIGA Treasurer J.R. Matthews, and members of the NIGA board and staff to present Hogan with the award, a one of a kind bolo tie, made by Kyle Begay, 11, of the Navajo Nation and a hand carved sculpture for his work in Indian Country. Andy Ebona, Chairman of the Spirit of Sovereignty foundation and longtime NIGA Board member officially presented the awards to Hogan.

As part of the event held at the ID Interactive G2E Expo booth, John Goldstein, CEO of ID Interactive LLC., joined Stevens and Hogan in unveiling one of the first fundraising initiatives on behalf of the Dreamseekers Foundation, the Hulkamania Experience, a video slot series based on Hoganâ<80><99>s adventures. A portion of the proceeds netted from the Hulkamania Experience will be earmarked to the healthcare and education advancement of Native American children.

In 2005, Hogan partnered with Stevens to form Dreamseekers, a non-profit organization dedicated to providing assistance to Native American youth and their families throughout Indian Country. Hogan will serve as a spokesman and work to push forward the organizationâ<80><99>s goal of improving healthcare and education for Native youth.

NIGA Chairman Stevens reflected on how Hoganâ<80><99>s hospital visits to sick children under foundations such as the Make a Wish Foundation and the Starlight Childrenâ<80><99>s Foundations inspired him to become involved in Native issues.

â<80><9c>Terry Bollea, better known as Hulk Hogan, came to us and he said, â<80>~When I go to visit hospitals, I donâ<80><99>t see Indian kids, and that was a real concern to me, so I decided that I want to reach out to these Indian kidsâ<80>, said Stevens. â<80><9c>And so, we began what we call the Dreamseekers Foundation. Terry already had the experience of making things a better place for the youth in America and so we wanted to extend his biceps, so to speak, into Indian Countryâ<80>.

Upon his acceptance of the award, Hogan spoke about how his concern grew from the lack of healthcare for Native Americans to encompass other problems plaguing Indian Country.

â<80><9c>At first, my mind was set on healthcare across the board. But then, when I learned about the suicide rates, the economic conditions, and about the quality of life in general, we needed to find some way to have a constant stream of revenue to address these problems. We needed to find a way to use Hulk Hogan – the brand, and the power of all my Native American Hulkamaniacs to generate constant revenue stream so we can really get to work on this situationâ<80>, said Hogan.

â<80><9c>Dreamseekers was destined to be. I had this crazy Hulkamania positive character that all the kids loved and the wrestling fans around the world had dialed into the positive message of the character of Hulk Hogan. And it transcended into the Native Americans and they were some of my biggest fans, the Hulkamaniacsâ<80>, said Hogan. â<80><9c>The sky is the limit. Under the banner of Dreamseekers, I think we can accomplish a lot of things on a grand scale.â<80>

Last year, the Dreamseekers foundation joined with the Spirit of Sovereignty Christmas drive and gave away thousands of dollars to needy families for the holidays. During the event Hogan, Stevens and Max Osceola, Councilman of the Seminole Tribe of Florida, were recognized and honored in a traditional ceremony by representatives of the Lakota community leadership. After the ceremony, Hogan was on hand to meet the Native youth and to sign autographs. â<80><9c>The response by the youth was so exciting that Hulk delayed his departure and stayed to sign over a thousand autographs.â<80> Chairman Stevens said.

Hogan and Stevens also announced at this yearâ<80><99>s G2E that they will be return to visit the Native youth in South Dakota as part of the Spirit of Sovereignty Christmas Drive this December.

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