Feb. 19, 2009

Notre Dame, Ind – Big Brothers Big Sisters has named two-time monogram winner Jim Roolf America’s Big Citizen, 2009. Roolf, who played football for the Irish in 1971-72, is the winner of an online contest held last month in recognition of Mentoring Month. The contest allowed individuals from across the country to nominate and vote for Big-hearted Americans that are doing remarkable work to help children in their communities.

Lisa Morel Las, CEO of the local Big Brothers Big Sisters agency of Joliet, Ill., told the Herald News, “Jim’s leadership in our community truly does make a difference for the children and the whole community.”

Roolf, president of Joliet’s First Midwest Bank, is currently involved in many projects to improve the lives of children and families in Joliet. His efforts are focused on improving low-income housing and transportation for families in need.

Roolf headed a campaign to raise money for a new Big Brothers Big Sisters building that will serve the Joliet community. He has served on countless boards and led numerous philanthropic initiatives that benefit underprivileged children.

His interest in philanthropy doesn’t stop there. Through his annual donations, Roolf is also leaving a legacy at Notre Dame. He is a member of the Rockne Heritage Fund and its recognition society, the Director’s Circle. Founded in 2002, the Rockne Heritage Fund is the first athletics annual fund at Notre Dame and has already experienced tremendous success. Expendable dollars raised through this fund are directed toward scholarships for Irish student-athletes in all 26 varsity sports.

Maureen McNamara, Executive Director of the Rockne Heritage Fund and Athletics External Affairs, is especially proud to have Roolf and many of his fellow monogram winners, supporting the fund. She said, “It is wonderful to hear about the great work Jim is doing with Big Brothers Big Sisters; a former student-athlete who continues to give back to his alma mater, his community and the world. He is an inspiration to all of us.

In Roolf’s two seasons with the Irish, Notre Dame went 16-5. He graduated in 1973 with a degree in sociology.

This June in Miami, Big Brothers Big Sisters will hold a dinner for Roolf in his honor.