Saturday, March 18, 2017

Braxston Banks, Our “Brother”

Braxston Banks
There are some people who you meet, who carry with them such a warmth, who always have a smile and an infectious laugh for you, and instantly become someone who changes you, who you’ll never forget. Braxston Banks was just such a person. 

[Originally published at HerLoyalSons.com]

You may have heard, the Notre Dame community has lost yet another one of its gentle warriors, Braxston Banks. Braxston was a star running back at the University of Notre Dame and played on the 1988 National Championship team. He had no idea that he had heart disease until he went to the hospital last week and discovered that three of his four coronary arteries were blocked. The procedure to put stents in was successful and Braxston was sent home, only to have the pain return the following day, and upon returning to the hospital, he passed away.

This week, as we all wrap our heads around this loss to our Notre Dame family, I have had the chance to catch up with a few of Braxston’s friends, as they share their cherished memories of their dear “brother.”

In speaking to those close to Braxston, there are several things that stand out. Braxston was a wonderful father, son, brother, coach, and mentor to the youth in the Hayward, Calif. community in which he resided. To say that he was a hometown hero would be an understatement. Braxston had a fabled high school career, followed by an outstanding National Championship winning career at Notre Dame, and later went on to work with and help the young people in his hometown, because he wanted to make a difference in their lives.

Lisa Boykin and Braxston Banks
In the eyes of Braxston, there was no such thing as a stranger. Lisa Boykin (ND ’88) told me a story about Braxston walking down the street in San Francisco recently. There was a homeless person sitting down on the sidewalk, who stood up and held out his hand as Braxston approached him; and what did Braxston do? He reached out to the man, took his hand, said “brother,” and hugged him. The homeless man returned Braxston’s embrace with a somewhat shocked look on his face, and then turned to Braxston and said thank you. “Braxston saw and recognized the humanity in this man, as he did with everyone,” Lisa said.

Braxston’s favorite way to address people was to call them “brother.” Everyone who knew him or interacted with him in any way, knew that “brother” was his favorite word. I think that speaks volumes about his character and who he was as a man. He never met a stranger. Braxston had this infectious laugh. He was always smiling. He always showed love to others. Braxston was kind and gentle; our gentle warrior. It was sometimes hard to believe that he could be so ferocious on the field, and then be as kind and loving to everyone as he was. Braxston was a devoted father who adored his children, loved working with young people, and was an exceptional coach and mentor. Braxston had the gift of being able to speak to the dreams of the young people he worked with as a teacher and coach.

He offered them encouragement, and showed them his own vulnerability by sharing his personal successes and failures. Braxston was genuine, and embraced everyone with a warmth and charisma that was infectious. That was Braxston Banks.

Even in high school, Braxston used his success on the football field and his popularity to build people up, and not tear them down. There was a fellow classmate of Braxston’s, an underclassman, who was being picked on at school. The kid being bullied was a scrawny kid, and Braxston noticed some bigger kids shoving this poor classmate into a locker. The kid who was being bullied also happened to be the younger brother of one of Braxston’s teammates. Braxston in turn intervened. Braxston walked down the hallway, with his arm around this kid, and said to the bullies, “keep your hands off, that’s my boy.”

Patrick Terrell and Braxston Banks take the field
I also had the chance to catch up with one of Braxston’s teammate and roommate from Notre Dame, Patrick Terrell.

“Braxston’s the closest friend, the best friend I’ve ever lost. Braxston was such a beautiful person, and it’s terribly sad, but it’s hard to not smile when you think about him. We’re all going to miss him, but no one is ever going to forget how much joy he brought into each and every one of our lives, in a truly special way.”

“I met Braxston on my recruiting visit to Notre Dame. He was my roommate at the Morris Inn. Here he was, this big, tall guy, with a tall “flat top” haircut, thick coke bottle glasses, and he turned to me and gave me the biggest hug as an introduction. ‘Hey, I’m Braxston Banks.’ I was completely freaked out. Where I was from in Florida, you didn’t just hug a stranger. But there was something so warm about him; I was in complete awe of his warmth, and from that point forward we were best friends for life. We’ve gone through so much together in our lives. We were from practically the two farthest points in the country; myself from St. Petersburg, Fla., and Braxston from San Francisco, Calif. We were absolutely inseparable in college. They didn’t know him as Braxston, or me as Pat … but instead they knew us as Braxston and Pat. We were best friends, and Braxston has been such an important influence in my life over the years, simply because of the way he viewed things.” 

“Honestly, I cannot think of a time where I remember him being upset. I remember when he hurt his knee junior year. He continued playing injured, playing for his team, and you’d never know he was hurt or upset. He was always more concerned about how you were doing, and he was a tremendous listener. He was the person that always brought out the best in everyone, and when people talked about him, it was always positive. He was just such a nice person.”

 

As I listen to his friends and family reminisce about Braxston, it is clear that more than anything, Braxston adored his three beautiful children-- Khabyl, Khorin and Storm.

Braxston’s memorial service is this Saturday, March 18th. In lieu of flowers, his family has requested for the Notre Dame family to please show your love by contributing to a scholarship and education fund for his children. In his absence, we embrace and lift up his kids and know that through them, his spirit lives on. On behalf of his mother, Priscilla, and sister, Nicole, peace and blessings and thank you for your generosity. https://www.gofundme.com/braxston-banks-children-s-education-fund

Please, if you can, help our “brother” Braxston with his children; help his children and their future.

Tuesday, February 28, 2017

Chocolate and Crucifixion

(Lenten reflections courtesy of Pauline.org)

And so the Church year turns again to Lent.

It’s a tricky season to navigate. As Catholics, we’re called to penance as we contemplate the journey of Our Lord through betrayal by his friends all the way to his torture and death. But let’s face it: 40 days is a long time to keep doing anything, especially something that you don’t like to do.

Catholics traditionally “give up” something for Lent. We return to meatless Fridays. We deprive ourselves of something that we really like—chocolate, for example. And we feel the pinch of the loss and sometimes we even make it through to Holy Week without cheating.

And somehow in all of that we lose the point of why we are doing it, because we’re so caught up in the how of doing it. God forgive us, we sometimes even feel sorry for ourselves for missing out on the glories of chocolate!

So this year might be the perfect year to look at Lent a little differently. Maybe it’s time to disassociate it from chocolate or meat or any of the luxuries we give up and that we generally substitute for prayer and penance.

Jesus made what we are supposed to do very clear. In the Gospels he set forth what would become the three “pillars” of the early Church, so called because they hold up the faithful, keep the people of God from falling into self-absorption and sin.

"Lent stimulates us to let the Word of God penetrate our life and in this way to know the fundamental truth: who we are, where we come from, where we must go, what path we must take in life." 
Pope Benedict XVI 


What if Jesus gave you a theme for 2017?


Most of us turn the page from December 31 to January 1 with mixed feelings. There may be regrets for what we’d planned to see accomplished in the year that is over. For many people, probably for most people, there is hope that the new year will be different.

And most of us make new year’s resolutions. We decide that this is the year we’re going to lose weight, or start a new career, or take a class. We’re all about self-improvement, about making changes that will—we believe—make us happier.

But how many of us make resolutions that will deepen our connection with Jesus? When January 1st comes around, how often do we focus on our spiritual lives?

In the classic He And I, French mystic Gabrielle Bossis, like the rest of us, started every year with something new. But her “resolutions” were very different from ours. Her conversations with God, recorded in her journal according to the date they took place, always started on January first with something called a “keynote,” what we might think of as a theme for the year.

And all of these themes have one thing in common: they have nothing to do with self-improvement, with losing weight, with working out, with getting a better job. They’re all about becoming closer to God.

Here are a few examples:
  • January 1, 1937: “Here is your keynote for the year: Purely and simply.”
  • January 1, 1938: “This year you will love Me in My brothers. Do for them what you would do for Me.”
  • January 1, 1943: "In each other’s hearts. You will keep yours in Mine and I’ll be in yours.”
  • January 1, 1947: “Keep going. Do good.”
  • January 1, 1949: “Serve. Find your joy in serving God and your neighbor.”“
All of these themes are simple and loving and could be easily repeated every morning as inspiration for the day. And they all bring the human soul into closer contact with God.

What would happen if we thought about how to get closer to God in 2017 (starting now during Lent), instead of how to have a better figure? What would a new year look like if we listened to God’s voice instead of all the secular culture's voices that make false promises about true happiness?

What if you prayed for God to give you a sense of what your theme for the year might be, and you built your plans and hopes around that theme? Your life would probably change even more dramatically than it has with past new year’s resolutions. You might be inspired to go to Mass an extra day every week, or to read more Scripture, or to volunteer at a shelter or soup kitchen.

Here’s what would probably happen if, like Gabrielle Bossis, you listened carefully to God’s will for your new year: your resolution would be less about you and more about others. You’d find yourself wanting less and giving more.

Perhaps this is the year to make changes based not on what the world tells you that you should want, but instead on what your heart tells you that Jesus wants of you. Perhaps this is the year when you give up trying to do something that you’ll abandon after a few weeks, and instead focus on the One who will never abandon you. Perhaps this is the year you can throw away the “resolutions” and embrace a theme, a keynote, a closeness with God.

And that money you were going to spend on the gym or the diet or the organizational tool? Put it in the poor-box instead. It’s a better investment for a far better year than you’ve ever had before.

Why not share your keynote for 2017 below?


by Jeannette de Beauvoir

Thursday, February 9, 2017

Jack Snow – His Cause Continues


Former Notre Dame football
player, Jack Snow
Strong of Heart, Profiles of Notre Dame Athletes (written by Randy Covitz, courtesy of Stephanie Snow Gebel)

Jack snow’s daughter Stephanie pleaded and finally persuaded him to be in the birthing room when she was about to deliver her daughter Raquel.

Tears filled Snow’s eyes when he held Raquel, his seventh grandchild, with the steady hands that caught 60 passes as an All-America wide receiver at Notre Dame in 1964 and 340 more passes and 45 touchdowns in an 11-year National Football League career with the Los Angeles Rams.

Snow would never live to see Raquel grow up, nor would he know that she would be diagnosed at age 4 with a rare disease known as Wolfram syndrome. He died on Jan. 9, 2006, of a staph infection at age 62. It was nine months and a day after Raquel was born.

But the legacy and memory of Jack Snow could be the catalyst that leads to more effective treatments, if not a cure, for millions of patients who suffer from diabetes and related illnesses, including Wolfram syndrome.

In 2011, Stephanie Snow Gebel and her brother, former Major League Baseball star J.T. Snow, established the Snow Foundation to raise awareness and funding to fight Wolfram.

Wolfram presents itself as Type I diabetes and ultimately leads to vision loss, hearing loss and cognitive decline. There are about 25,000 known cases of Wolfram in the world, and 60 percent of the patients die by their 30th birthday.

“From the time of diagnosis, they decline a great deal within five to eight years,” said Stephanie Snow Gebel, who with husband Barclay has four children, including Raquel, now 10.

“Raquel is legally blind now … she can’t see five feet in front of her. She has to go on medicine to control her bladder. She gets awful headaches and choking episodes.”

During Jack Snow’s playing career, he represented several charitable causes, including the Susan G. Komen (breast cancer), the Epilepsy Foundation and, most dear to his heart, the Juvenile Diabetes Research Foundation. His other daughter, Michelle, has a son, Jacob, who was first afflicted with diabetes as a young child.

“He was an out-of-the-norm athlete,” Stephanie said of her father, who teamed with Heisman Trophy-winning quarterback John Huarte in 1964 and left Notre Dame as the school’s all-time leader in single-season receptions, receiving yards and touchdowns. “He would go out and publicly speak and give his fee to the Rams’ charitable foundation. He was always doing things for people, and he never expected anything in return.”

Unlike the many charities Jack Snow endorsed, the Snow Foundation is one of a kind. It’s the only organization in the world dedicated to conquering the lesser-known Wolfram syndrome.

The Snow Foundation has raised close to $2 million for research, but it is about $2 million shy of the necessary funds to complete drug trials.

“We’re learning that lesser known diseases don’t get a lot of attention and have a hard time with fund raising,” said J.T. Snow, a former Gold Glove first baseman for the San Francisco Giants. “We’ve reached out to a lot of people. We got this thing rolling. We need to raise a lot more money to make sure people like Raquel are going to be taken care of.

“We’re kind of bummed out that my dad’s not around because he would have taken this and would have gotten a lot of attention for it. He would get people to buy in and to get into their checkbooks and help us raise money for these doctors who are studying Wolfram syndrome.”


Three generations…Papa Jack, Stephanie and tiny Raquel…
As analyst for the Rams’ radio broadcasts after his professional football career ended, Jack Snow accompanied the club when it moved to St. Louis in 1995. In a stroke of good fortune, the doctor who began researching and discovered Wolfram syndrome was Dr. Alan Permutt of Washington University in St. Louis.

Permutt, a diabetes victim himself, treated Raquel for nearly two years until his death in 2012. His work is being carried on at Washington University by Dr. Fumihiko Urano, whom Stephanie convinced to relocate his family from Japan to St. Louis.

“In focusing on a rare disease like Wolfram, we have uncovered a lot about common problems—that’s what is so exciting about it,” said Dr. Saad Naseer, chief executive officer and chief medical officer of The Snow Foundation.

“It’s diabetes, vision loss, hearing loss and brain deterioration. Those four collectively affect hundreds of millions of people. You probably know 10-12 diabetics personally. You know people whose vision and hearing deteriorate or have Alzheimer’s or Parkinson’s or some sort of other brain deterioration.

“The research we’re doing is applicable to all those people. If we find a new treatment for diabetes, it’s not just for Wolfram syndrome patients, it’s for every diabetic. The same goes for any treatments we develop for vision loss, hearing loss or brain deterioration.”

The doctors at Washington University recently received encouraging data from its first testing of mice.

“We actually prevented diabetes in all of the mice we gave our test compound to,” Naseer said. “We’re close, but the problem is we need a minimum of $2 million to complete all these studies in mice.”

To help come up with more funds, the Snow Foundation established a website, thesnowfoundation.org, to raise awareness and has staged events including golf tournaments, celebrity bartending functions and other activities to raise funds.

Stephanie and J.T. also reached out to the Notre Dame family, including former Fighting Irish quarterback Rick Mirer, whom Gebel calls “her little Notre Dame angel,” and Brian Murphy, an NFL player agent and Notre Dame graduate whose wife Lauren is a diabetic.

Mirer, who operates the Mirer Family Foundation that provides help for youngsters with health and educational needs, said Raquel’s illness reminded him of former Notre Dame coach Ara Parseghian’s three grandchildren who died from a rare genetic disorder.

“I ran with this because I had a lot of sympathy for Stephanie’s situation, and I wanted to introduce her to people who may be able to help,” Mirer said. “The Notre Dame family rallied around Ara’s situation and made an impact, hopefully eliminating a lot of other kids having to go through that.

“It’s been a little harder because she’s not Ara Parseghian. Eventually, we’ll get the right people aware of it and she’ll get the help she needs.”

Mirer hopes members of Notre Dame’s Monogram Club respond to the cause— and Murphy, who represents current and former NFL players from Notre Dame, believes they’ll step up to the plate, similar to how Jack Snow contributed his time and resources to worthwhile causes.

“This is going to sound corny,” Murphy said, “but this is what they teach you during your four years under the Golden Dome, that part of our purpose here on earth is to make our community better and to help those less fortunate and to give and to give and to give.

“It’s an old philosophy that you give what you get. Jack Snow was actively involved in all these charities, and now it’s time to help his family and a lot of people are anxious to give back to him because he helped so much.”

Once the doctors at Washington University complete the mice studies, the Snow Foundation will have sufficient data to approach a pharmaceutical company and ask it to take over the project.

“Our foundation is the Little Engine That Could,” Stephanie Snow Gebel said. “Keep your eye on us. We’re getting positive hits on the diabetic rounds with the drug we’re working on and positive hits on a drug we’re working on with vision.

“It’s going to be revolutionary. I think there’s a reason my child got this disease. I am a fighter, I am a momma bear, I’m not going to sit back and watch her deteriorate if I can do something about it. I’ve got my dad’s personality. I’m a mini-Jack Snow … ”

In all, Jack Snow had three children and eight grandchildren. In this quest to find a cure for Wolfram, the family still derives inspiration from Jack nearly 10 years after his death.

“He’s watching, and he’s helping out best he can,” said J.T. Snow. “We know that because little things here and there pop up and let us know that he’s paying attention, both he and my mom, Merry Carole, who we lost way too early (to cancer in 1998).

“We see the No. 84 a lot, his number with the Rams. Things that remind us of him, things a family would know. You go to the grocery store, and your grocery bill is like $84 … or a lot of times we travel, and we’re leaving out of Gate 84. Just random things like that let you know my mom and dad are watching.”

Our foundation is the Little Engine That Could”

If you would like to learn more on how you can help the Snow Foundation, please visit their website: http://thesnowfoundation.org/

Cheers!!

Saturday, May 28, 2016

Eric Griggs: Notre Dame Man and “Every man’s doctor”

EricGriggsNotre Dame Man and “Every man’s doctor” … Eric Griggs is making a difference

Just two short years ago Fit4Life Executive Board Member and Wellness Champion Dr. Eric Griggs launched the "Step Away" Prostate and Colon Cancer Kick-Off Event in the city of New Orleans.

“‘Step Away’ was a city-wide health initiative kick-off which emphasized the importance of screenings in partnership with the American Cancer Society (ACS).” Doc Griggs is a spokesperson for the ACS and a health and wellness ambassador for the city of New Orleans.

This particular event is just one of many events sponsored by the American Cancer Society, Fit NOLA  and 100 Black Men that "Doc Griggs" works on. They are helping to implement a national initiative to motivate people to go and have health screenings done. In the African-American community, the type of prostate cancer that they are predominately being diagnosed with is not only aggressive but often times already in the late stages by the time it is diagnosed. If we can get people to go have screenings done, we can catch cancer before it is in the advanced stages.

“What we’re doing is an ‘underwear awareness’ initiative. We are educating people about prostate exams and colonoscopies. Because most men view this as a ‘traumatic’ event they won’t even go and get screened, let alone have these discussions with their doctor. We’re trying to educate people that there are other types of screenings that are less invasive than the standard prostate exam and colonoscopy. They can have a FITT test done or have a stool occult blood sample tested to determine whether a more invasive test is even needed.”

colon cancer awareness“The good news is having a colonoscopy done is not only a screening but it can be diagnostic as well. If a polyp is found they can remove it right then and there. A polyp typically takes up to 10 years to become a cancerous tumor. This is why you are supposed to have a screening done every 10 years. If they do find a polyp, it is recommended that you come back every 5 years to help monitor any recurrences.”

“The main purpose of these type of events is to heighten awareness.”

“The key to good health is prevention and that starts with conversations. The key to disease prevention is to be healthy.”

“Our three key recommendations are:

Get checked.

Get fit.

Get moving!”

“When we get together with our family we talk about work, sports, politics … basically everything but our health and family history. We need to talk to our family members about our family history. Health prevention and disease diagnosis comes out of the roots of your tree. And just because you are predisposed to something does not mean it is going to happen. There are things you can do to take control of your health and to help prevent it from coming to fruition.”

“I tell my patients to go to the doctor right before the football season every year so they have a benchmark. ‘You know your favorite team is going to give you a heart attack every year so you might as well be prepared.’” (laughs)

“Get fit and get healthy.”

“You do this by eating well and coloring your plate. I don’t believe in diets. I believe diets die. Everyone I know who has been on a diet has failed. You may lose 20 pounds, but then you gain back 40. Instead of going on a 'diet,' control your portion sizes and eat in moderation.”

“Get moving.”

“Find something you like to do. Anything really … garden, ride your bike, run, dance, get out the hula hoop … just get moving. One minute of dancing in front of the mirror in the morning burns 50-100 calories. All of these things fall into the realm of wellness.”

“On January 21st of this year, one of my best friends died of colon cancer at the age of 46. He was a healthy guy. We would work out together all the time. One day he complained of a pulling sensation in his lower abdomen and we just assumed that he had just pulled something. When he went to the doctor to get it checked out they found a grapefruit sized tumor in his abdomen. He had never had a colonoscopy and he had no family history.”

“If you have a family history of lower body cancers, such as ovarian or kidney, you are at a higher risk level for colon and prostate cancer.”

“His passing is part of what is fueling my fervor to get this movement going. Over the course of the next year we are going to do a different screening in each district of New Orleans. We are going to create awareness and then get people to screenings.”

Doc Griggs getting the city of New Orleans up and dancing!“Everyone needs to think about what they are putting into their bodies … and go to the doctor. At every event I give out my number. If you have a health question, call me! If you are afraid to go to the doctor and you want someone to go with you to ask the right questions, call me! I want to take away the fear of the unknown.”

“Our ultimate goal is to track how many people go to the doctor and get screened, roll these initiatives out in other cities and to get a million people screened nationwide.”

“If you keep it fun you will keep people moving because it no longer feels like 'work.' It’s so much easier to hold someone’s attention when you have them laughing and smiling.”

“I’m not a scary doctor … I’m just a regular dude.”

Besides being a "regular dude," Doc Griggs specializes in Community Medicine. What is a Community Medicine specialist you ask?

 A "Community Medicine specialist in other hand is designated to handle research in healthcare, health need of communities, plan and administer research for changing need and prospective community, city, province and the nation...."

"The demand of evolving communities necessitates this reform in medicine to not only concern about individual health; but to expand its mission for the entire community such as a neighborhood, a city, a region or entire country."

"The importance of Community Medicine has been very well recognized all over the world both industrial and developing nation by including community in the discipline of medicine. The scope of medical care is expanded to other disciplines such as economic, housing, city planning, nutrition and communication."

“I love the fact that the American Cancer Society celebrates birthdays. They celebrate the fact that you made it to another year. That’s an easy sell. That is not the sell that’s being done in most doctor offices.”

“Your doctor is like the coach in the booth above the game, and you are the player on the field. You might not understand the play he’s calling or why he’s calling it, but it’s your job to execute the play.”
“I didn’t want to go into medicine. I actually tried to get out. My mom had a health issue that I couldn’t (and still can’t) help. My dad died in hospice, in front of my entire family, holding my hand and I thought ‘to hell with this. I do not want to do this anymore.’”

“I started teaching, rehabbing houses, anything but medicine.”

“My wife and I had a med spa and a family practice but all I was doing was office support & maintenance.”

“I was asked to go on a radio show and talk about the med spa and the radio host kept calling me Dr. Griggs. Then people started calling in to the show with medical questions and asking me for advice and the radio host ended the show with, ‘and next week we will be back with more medical advice on the Dr. Griggs Medical show,’ and I was kicking him under the table. No, no, no!”

“He said to me, ‘just come back and talk more about the medical spa’ … and that turned into me having my own radio show. “

“I love it. I’m reaching more people. It’s what I wanted to do all along because through my outreach people are actually listening to me. You can try to do what you want but you can’t run away from what God wants you to do.”

“My marketing/brand manager is a former football player from Tulane University. He asked me if I could get some other Notre Dame players behind my initiative. The next day I called him and said … ‘so far I’ve got Irv Smith, Steve Pope and Oscar McBride.’ In disbelief he said, ‘are you guys really that tight?’ Why yes, yes we are that tight. It is the strength of the Notre Dame family.”

Do you want to learn more about Doc Griggs and his health and wellness movement? Check out his web site: http://docgriggs.com/

Dr. Eric Griggs graduated from the University of Notre Dame in 1992 (and was a walk-on with the Fighting Irish football team) and Tulane University School of Medicine in 1996. Dr. Griggs is a native of Winston Salem, North Carolina and currently lives in New Orleans since completing medical school. Today, he is the CEO of RMDS Aesthetics & Med Spa and Research MDs Family Practice and Clinical Research Center in Mid-City New Orleans. Dr. Griggs is also the weekly Health Educator for the local FOX affiliate's "Morning Edition" in New Orleans, the host of “The Doctor Griggs” Radio show on WBOK 1230 AM and an internet show ," Health Talk with Doc Griggs" on New Orleans Talk Network (NOTN) - www.neworleanstalknetwork.com, both focusing on health, wellness and community. Dr. Griggs is active in the New Orleans community and currently serves on the Board of Directors for the Southeast Region of the Boys & Girls Clubs of America. In addition, he is the Chairman of the Board of Advisors for the Boys & Girls Clubs NFL-YET Center in New Orleans and Executive Board Member on Oscar McBride’s Fit 4 Life Youth Foundation. Dr. Griggs also co-founded and directs the Broadmoor Basketball Association, a basketball program for at-risk youth. He has made it his life work to educate the community. Dr. Griggs participates in several community engagement events, activities and speaks on various subjects such as preventative medicine and life skills.  

Tuesday, December 8, 2015

Notre Dame Football Creates Holiday Cheer

Being a student-athlete at Notre Dame is more than a full-time job. Beyond time spent learning in the classroom and studying outside of the classroom, their time is filled with meetings, film study, weight room time, training table and practice. In addition to all of that, somehow, Our Lady's student-athletes also find time to give back to the local community.

This past Sunday the Notre Dame football team took 110 LaVille kids-in-need on a shopping trip to Meijer courtesy of the Kelly Cares Foundation.

"They love doing this more than you can imagine," said Notre Dame football head coach Brian Kelly. "They love getting out with the kids and spending time with them."

"I really enjoy the one-on-one and seeing the kids and the impact and seeing the smiles," says Coach Kelly's wife, Paqui Kelly. "It's the smiles and the interaction that really solidifies all your hard work."

via @NDPlayerDev: Shop with a Player! Special thanks to 
@KellyCares, @meijer, Royal Excusion, and @papa_vinos ! #IrishAroundTheBen

This year's shopping spree was sponsored by the Kelly Cares Foundation for the fourth year, and the players enjoy it just as much as the kids do.

"It's a blast for us," says Irish captain and defensive back Matthias Farley. "I think it's a lot of fun for them too. Coming out here and obviously Charles is pretty excited about the stuff he got today so it's awesome being a part of it."

Each child was given a $100 gift card to make their purchases. For the children who went a bit over their budget, Meijer covered the difference.

via @NDPlayerDev: Shop with a Player in full effect! Some happy kids Christmas shopping with our players! #IrishAroundtheBend 

"We had a great time," says Prosise. "She got to get some things for her family and for herself. Got some footballs and soccer balls to play outside so she got some nice things."

Wise beyond his years, Notre Dame quarterback Malik Zaire put the whole experience into perspective.

"Being that we don't get a chance to go home for the holidays as much as we want to," Zaire began to say.

"Oh that's sad," said in his new friend Harley.

"Yeah. we get to extend our Notre Dame family to everyone else so it's a good chance to come out and share that with the people in the community and with each other so it's a good feeling," Zaire said.

"At least you get to spend Christmas with some friends at school," Harley said.

"Friends at school and I get my friend Harley here too," said Zaire.

Following the afternoon of shopping, the players and kids were treated to lunch at Papa Vino's.
Cheers!!



Thursday, October 29, 2015

Remember When?

Photo by: Lynne Gilbert


Well hello there! It's been a while since I've been here. I spend most of my time over at Her Loyal Sons talking football, so please come visit me over there and say "Hi!"

I've also been pretty consumed lately with writing the second volume of "Echoes From the End Zone: The Men We Became" which is due out in August of 2016. I've gathered 28 more stories about former Notre Dame football players and where their lives have taken them after football (including Terry Hanratty, John Huarte and Ken MacAfee) so please stay tuned!

But I'm not quite ready to get rid of ole' Bridget's just yet ... so hang tight. And as Arnold says, "I'll be back!"

Cheers!!




Monday, March 9, 2015

Vote to Help the Ara Parseghian Foundation

Marcia, Christa and Michael Parseghian
It's NCAA Tourney Time and who doesn't love a good challenge? Especially one that benefits a charity that is near and dear to the Notre Dame family's heart!

Please direct your attention to The Infinity Coaches' Charity Challenge.

As a proud corporate partner of NCAA Men’s Basketball, Infiniti will donate at least $1,000 to each of the participating charities. The coach’s charity with the most votes will win the grand prize of $100,000. Here's how it works:
  • Support your coach by voting daily.
  • Coaches with the most votes advance to the next round and voting restarts.
  • Infiniti will donate at least $1,000 to each charity, and the winning charity receives $100,000.
  • The winner will be announced March 16.
  • Support your coach by sharing the Infiniti Coaches’ Charity Challenge with friends and family!
How does the Notre Dame family fit into this? The Purdue head basketball coach, Matt Painter, who represents the Smith Family BReaK Thru Fund, has pledged that if he wins the $100,000 prize, it will be donated to The Ara Parseghian Foundation.

Your vote would mean a great deal to Coach Parseghian and his entire family, and it will only take you just a minute. This is a chance for $100,000 to be donated to fight Niemann-Pick Type C disease, a rare childhood disease that took the lives of three of Coach Parseghian's grandchildren. The Ara Parseghian Foundation has made huge strides in research into NPC these past two decades and connections are being found to Alzheimer's and heart disease.

Please log on to the ESPN Infiniti Coaches' Charity Challenge and vote for Purdue head basketball coach, Matt Painter. Coach Painter has already made it to the Final Four Voting Round and is currently in second place. Voting will run from 3/2/2015 through 3/15/2015 ending at 11:59 am EST. Please vote daily and spread the word. Thank you!

The Parseghian family is forever grateful to you and your unending support!

Cheers!!