From left: Brian Griese, Charles Woodson and Steve Hutchinson
May 21, 2012
University of Michigan director of athletics Dave Brandon will regularly offer his view on a variety of topics related to U-M and intercollegiate sports. All his posts, along with links to related content, will be available on his page, mgoblue.com/brandon, and he is also on Twitter at @DaveBrandonAD.
Community service is an important part of the college experience for Michigan student-athletes, and when they continue those efforts once they leave the Ann Arbor campus, it gives us a wonderful feeling that the "life lessons" we attempt to teach at Michigan Athletics truly do shape their lives and behaviors when they leave our campus.
This past weekend, Brian Griese, Steve Hutchinson and Charles Woodson hosted the "Champions for Children's Hearts Weekend" benefiting the University of Michigan C.S. Mott Children's Hospital Champions for Children's Hearts campaign. And for the sixth consecutive year, they pulled off one of the best charitable events we hold on this campus.
They have used their national reputations and relationships with their former teammates to create something important that started with an experience they had while playing football for the Wolverines -- and has led to a fundraising event that is helping to save and change lives.
For Griese, Hutchinson and Woodson, the weekly Thursday night visits to the C.S. Mott Children's Hospital with their fellow student-athletes back in the 90s created the connection. There has always been an emphasis on community service at Michigan Athletics, but in 1991 a tradition began that continues today. "From the Heart" with the support of the U-M Athletic Department welcomes a group of student-athletes and coaches from all of our sports teams to visit the children in the hospital every Thursday evening.
For many student-athletes, they first go as part of a team outing or as a tag along with one of their teammates. For most, once they visit they are hooked!
Watching these children's faces light up as they walk into the room gives our student-athletes a sense of pride and accomplishment. They see how they can make a difference in someone's life. They have the ability to create a magical, positive moment for patients and families in an otherwise difficult situation.
What our student-athletes don't understand at the time is that these same children are actually helping our gifted and healthy young student-athletes. In a sense, it is team building at its best!
These young children, who are dealing with their challenges and difficulties with courage and determination, are teaching our student-athletes compassion and strength -- and patience.
As we enjoyed so many former U-M athletes, alumni, supporters, friends and former Mott Children's Hospital patients and their families return to campus this past weekend, for some of us it was reminiscent of another great celebrity weekend of activities that Bo Schembechler started.
Along with his close friend and former U-M golfer Howard Wikel, the Bo partnered with the University of Michigan Medical School to host a U-M Athletic Department charity celebrity golf weekend in 1993. The event was to benefit funding of the Millie Schembechler Adrenal Cancer Research Fund.
Bo's first wife Millie died in 1992 of adrenal cancer, a very rare form of cancer that strikes about 200 Americans each year.
Schembechler and Wikel ran this event for eight years and raised in excess of $3.5 million, helping the fight against this rare cancer and eventually endowing the position known as the Millie Schembechler Professor of Adrenal Cancer. The Schembechler endowment at the U-M Comprehensive Cancer Center endowed a professorship in adrenal cancer -- the first adrenal cancer endowment of a professor in the country.
Now we have another special weekend on the U-M Athletics campus that is being led by Brian, Steve and Charles -- that has raised more than $5 million for Mott Children's Hospital over the past six years!
Mock Rock, the Michigan Softball Academy, the Women's Football Academy, the Fantasy Football Camp for Men, Lace Up for Michigan, and Habitat for Humanity are only a few of the charitable efforts current Michigan student-athletes and coaches support.
Our student-athletes alone engage in approximately 4,000 hours of community service per calendar year.
So, when you read or hear about the Griese/Hutchinson/Woodson Champions for Children's Hearts Weekend, let it remind you that "Leaders and Best" not only applies to academics and athletics -- but also our passion for community and charitable service.
On behalf of the Michigan Athletic Department, I would like to thank all of our student-athletes (past and present!), coaches, alumni, fans and supporters who give their time and energy for so many worthy causes.
Also a special thanks to Brian, Steve and Charles for being the inspirational leaders behind a wonderful weekend in Ann Arbor that will do so much for so many...
Dave Brandon Home Page