CHARLES COLSON HOPE AWARDS
2016 CHAMPION OF HOPE HONOREE
The Charles Colson Champion of Hope award is bestowed annually on a person whose life has been directly impacted by incarceration—either as a former prisoner or as the child of an incarcerated parent. The awardee has overcome obstacles and opposition to realize their God-given potential and is now making a significant contribution to their community and helping others affected by incarceration.
The Champion of Hope Award is given to a former prisoner or child of a prison who has overcome steep odds to make a significant, positive contribution to their community.
Those who work in the field of prison ministry quickly become familiar with just how hard it can be to start over: 2.2 million people are incarcerated; more than 600,000 of them will be released this year; and two-thirds of those who come out will be re-arrested within three years. But Danny Croce, the recipient of this year’s Champion of Hope Award, is markedly different.
Danny is what Chuck Colson called a "living monument" to the power of the Gospel. Danny was sitting in Plymouth County Jail in 1985 when he received a Bible. As he read it, he started falling in love with the person of Jesus as related in the Gospels, and he never stopped. Through Christ, he overcame addiction and began to love and serve God. When he was released, he found a Bible-believing church. He applied for and received Wheaton College’s Charles Colson Scholarship for former prisoners, graduating with a degree in theology in 1995.
Danny did go back to prison—as the chaplain at Massachusetts’s Plymouth County Jail where he first met his Savior. He is now the head of New Hope Correctional Ministry, providing comprehensive nondenominational chaplain services to facility residents, staff, public officials, and the surrounding community. He is truly a champion of hope, and that is why, before he died, Chuck asked Danny if he would speak at his memorial service—a privilege Danny undertook at the National Cathedral after Chuck’s death in 2012.
Danny is an inspiring example of the potential that gets unleashed when prisoners turn their lives over to Christ. Epitomizing Prison Fellowship's core values, he respects the dignity of all those to whom he ministers, equipping them for futures of shining hope and purpose through the Gospel. He serves humbly and relies on prayer and God's Word to guide his life. He demonstrates what is possible for each person now behind bars.
The bar for returning citizens is set low; staying out of trouble is generally considered success. But like Chuck Colson, Danny didn’t just get out of prison and move on with his life. Having seen the hope and love of Jesus Christ, he gratefully dedicated his life to serving others and bringing new purpose to those behind bars. But Danny has striven for the higher standard of Christ, becoming a servant leader in his community. In addition to his correctional ministry, he and his wife welcomed a mentally impaired adult into their family, demonstrating the loving acceptance that should characterize the people of God. He is an example not just for former prisoners, but for anyone.
Danny Croce was nominated by founder Chuck Colson’s widow, Patty Colson. Having walked alongside her husband Chuck during his incarceration and the decades of transformative ministry that followed, she has seen countless “champions of hope,” which gives special weight to her nomination of Danny
CHARLES COLSON HOPE AWARDS
The Charles Colson Hope Awards, sponsored by Prison Fellowship, recognize people who have faithfully and courageously worked to restore those affected by crime and incarceration. Charles Colson, who founded Prison Fellowship 40 years ago, was at ease with presidents, prisoners, wardens, pastors, laypeople, and legislators. In all times and places, he was a passionate advocate for incarcerated men and women, and their families, sharing his faith in the Gospel and honoring the God-given value and potential of each person. His impact on prison ministry, prison culture, and prison reform has been broad and lasting. In keeping with his inspiring legacy, the Charles Colson Hope Awards honor people who, in following his example, have been role models to others and brought restoration through their sphere of influence.