Saturday, January 26, 2008

Brian Piccolo Cancer Research Fund

Like most men and women my age, I wept uncontrollably after I watched the 1971 movie, "Brian's Song," the story about former Chicago Bears running back Brian Piccolo's improbable rise to professional football glory that came crashing down after he developed cancer and died at 26 years old. The movie centers on the relationship between Piccolo and Gayle Sayers, the Hall of Fame running back for the Bears who was Piccolo's best friend and roommate on the road. Both men were married with young families when Piccolo was stricken with cancer. What made their friendship even more compelling was the indifference that race made in their friendship and professional relationship. Piccolo and Sayers were the first white and African-American players to room together in a professional football training camp and when traveling. And while the movie focuses rightly on Piccolo's battle against cancer and his wife's brave face to hold things together, there is equal attention to Sayers' personal growth and his eventual emotional embrace of his friend's plight.

About a year and a half ago, I met Brian Piccolo's daughter, Lori, after our children landed in the same second grade class and quickly became friends. I learned several months later, only after a conversation with her husband, that Lori was Brian's daughter, which explained her son's enthusiasm for the Bears and his "41" jersey, which is not one you see too often. If Brian was anything like Lori, I certainly understand why he was held in such high regard by his teammates and friends, and why his memory still runs through Chicago sports fans. Lori is one of those people who is so naturally kind and generous and so radiantly beautiful that she inspires you to think how you can improve yourself as a person. What's worse is that most of us have to try really hard to do half as well things that come so naturally to her. And forget the gorgeous exterior -- that is nature's gift that can't be replicated. Perhaps, though, I can use her example to figure out a way one day to use my fortunate position in life to help people in need.

If you read the post below on "What money can't buy," you'll know that two friends of mine recently passed away of cancer. Since both families wished for any remembrance to be directed towards a foundation or fund that sponsors good works, I want to use this spot to highlight the Brian Piccolo Cancer Research Fund, based in Chicago. You can learn more about what it does and how to contribute by clicking here. Please consider a contribution of any size -- the Fund gladly accepts money from sidewalk lemonade sales as much as it does major donations -- if and when you find yourself in a position to do so.

1 comment:

Superglide said...

I have been trying to contact the Brian Piccolo Cancer Research Fund web site for a couple of days. My golf group wants to make a memorial contribution for the daughter of one of our members. Their web server seems to be down. Do you have a contact name and phone number? Thanks for any help.

Joe Brown
Clearwater, FL