When Kimberly Galberaith first asked me to be the "Poster Boy" for a Community Project due to my involvement with Coach to Cure MD, I thought, "Community Project? Are you sure? Doesn't Coach To Cure MD better fit into another category or something?"
But as I thought about it, it couldn't make better sense. She was right again, as usual. Some of you may be familiar with the event, but for you others who don't know about it let me give you a little background. Thanks to a lot of work on the part of my brother-in-law, Brad Todd, PPMD was accepted as an official charity of the American Football Coaches Association (AFCA). This is the professional organization of high-school and college football coaches, and includes over 10,000 members internationally. Other charities that they have adopted have grown dramatically, such as increasing from $1 million to $8 million over the course of three years.
PPMD and the AFCA collaborated together to develop a one-day event called Coach to Cure MD. On October 25th, college football coaches from across the country wore Coach to Cure MD armband patches to show their support for PPMD and Duchenne. The goal was to increase awareness and raise money for research.
The response from the coaches was incredible, and over 1600 coaches participated, including most high-profile coaches in the top 25 ranked teams, as well as most coaches participating in televised games. As a result, we received a huge amount of free television, blog, and media coverage. We also had big assistance from a corporate sponsor, TIAA-CREF, who donated airtime to play a PSA during the Georgia/LSU game. Fox Sports and Direct TV also provided free airtime for the PSA. In sum, things went very well and we were amazed about how much we were able to pull off in such a short time (we had about 3 months to plan this). More importantly, we showed the AFCA and the coaches that we were able to pull this off and we have set a solid foundation for next year.
Now, you have to understand that the original goal of Coach to Cure MD was to raise money for research. And it still is, which is why my initial response to Kim's request was, "Huh?" But the more I thought about it, the more it made sense. The beautiful thing about Coach to Cure MD is that it has potential to have a big impact on every area targeted by PPMD: Research, Advocacy, Care, and Education. Obviously there is huge potential to use this as an opportunity to raise money. Our lobbyists are practically drooling about ways they can use this to help educate our lawmakers about Duchenne. The opportunities for increasing national awareness about Duchenne and best practices for care (FYI - most care takes place in universities that participated in Coach to Cure) are limitless.
But the thing that ties it all together is our community. This is a chance to bring us together on a common page. It is an opportunity for everyone to get involved and work together toward a common goal. It is a chance to make new connections and renew old friendships. There is room for everyone to get on board and contribute, or at least get to know other families. For example, this year some families joined together to attend Coach to Cure MD tailgaiting parties. Some organized, others just attended, but the important thing is that everyone was able to contribute in whatever manner they could...TOGETHER!
I can't take credit for Coach to Cure MD, as it couldn't have happened without the support of individuals and families that are too numerous to mention here. You know who you are and I know you don't need it, but I give you my thanks and the thanks of our boys.
To the entire Duchenne community, please think about donating to my community project this year, or at least getting involved next year to whatever extent you can. Not only will it be good for our cause, but it will bring us together on a local and national level. We will End Duchenne...and we will do it together.
Thanks for listening.