I worked the Brian Griese/Steve Hutchinson/Charles Woodson Champions For Children’s Hearts event on Saturday night at the Al Glick Fieldhouse.
First of all, this was my first time in the fieldhouse and my goodness it is beautiful!
Second of all, the event itself was incredibly special because of all the fundraising and money that is donated for Motts Children’s hospital.
There were hundreds of stories to share with you—from Jay Feely asking me if I would play golf in his group the next day at the outing to complimenting Adam Schefter from ESPN on his catch—he smiled a big smile and said, “Thank you so much. I really appreciate it.”
But in the grand scheme of things none of that was important—what was important that these people work together to make sure that the kids at Motts have the best care and comforts they can have. What I learned/forgot/relearned on Saturday is it’s not just the kid who is sick and suffers, but the family of the child who is ill.
The perfect example was Faith. Faith had a video play over the two big screens talking about her illness. She’s unable to use the restroom and as a result has spent tons of time in the hospital, had numerous surgeries (including one she postponed so she could be at this event), and is unable to attend a “normal” school.
Faith and her family were seated with Detroit Lions quarterback Matthew Stafford and his girlfriend Kelly Hall. That’s right, two Georgia Bulldogs came to support Motts Children’s hospital—he was surrounded by Wolverine football players from the past!
Here’s what Faith’s Mom said about the evening in her blog:
At the beginning of the evening a very beautiful young woman sat down at our table, she introduced herself as Kelly. Faith was immediately in love. After the athletes in attendance were introduced Matt Stafford came and sat next to her at the table. Immediately, Will’s entire disposition changed. Suddenly, there was life in my sons eyes, and a smile, a really excited happy smile that I had not seen for months.
Right away Matt could tell that my son was a fan, he stuck his hand out and introduced himself. The next hour or so Will asked all kinds of questions, who do you like to throw the ball to the most, did you ever play other sports, at one point they were talking about candy. Matt’s girlfriend had Faith just as engaged, they talked about nails, and dresses, she was delightful. Beautiful inside and out.
Throughout the dinner there were two live auctions with Dhani Jones as the auctioneer. One of the auction items included tickets to a Monday Night Football game in Chicago featuring the Detroit Lions. Previous auction items were “beefed up” when Dhani would ask the people who provided the items to increase their donations. He asked this of Stafford and Stafford quickly threw in four additional tickets to the game.
Will was excited to see who won the package and watched intently to see who was going to see his Lions play in Chicago, suddenly, the Lions own quarterback began bidding on the package, Dhani teased about being able to watch and play at the same time, saying I know you were good last year, but man that is talent. I assumed he was driving the price of the package up, all the money goes to Mott, I thought it was incredibly cool of him. As the bidding continued he wasn’t backing off…he was in it, he wanted to win that package, and had I known why, I’m certain, I would have been in tears. Somewhere in the $15k range Matt Stafford was the owner of the MNF package, the crowd laughed, but moments later, that same crowd would be giving the Mott newcomer a standing ovation. As he won the package he turned to Will and said, there you go buddy, you go to Chicago, and take your family. The look on my sons face, I will never forget. His chin began to quiver, he was about to cry. He quickly jumped up and gave Matt a hug, and thanked him over and over again.
Faith, her brother, and their family had no idea this was going on and after Stafford was awarded the item, Dhani announced that he had purchased the item for Faith’s family. He asked if Faith would like to come up and thank Matt in front of everyone, which she did. This adorable little girl in her princess dress thanked him on stage in front of 1,000 people.
Matt received a standing ovation from the crowd and there were not many eyes that weren’t misted over…
This family has been through so much and without even thinking, Matt made a really kind gesture to bring the family closer together and to give them something to look forward to this fall.
Later in the evening, Brian Griese invited all of the former Michigan quarterbacks up to the stage to pass footballs out to the crowd. These footballs had been signed by Griese, Hutchinson and Woodson as well as Michigan Head Coach Brady Hoke. Each football would cost $1,000 and I believe they said each donation was being matched so Motts had a chance to make either $200,000 or $400,000 from the footballs.
Brian invited Matt up on stage to help pass out the footballs saying that showing up at the Gala on Saturday night and purchasing the auction gift, he was now an honorary member of the Michigan football team.
Real classy move…
So Saturday evening was a whirlwind of emotions. It’s wonderful to see so much good in so many people and to know they are Wolverines.
Keep changing the world. Go Blue!