Over the coming days and weeks I will be sharing a series of posts that tell the story of Uplifting Athletes–a charitable effort that grew out of the personal tragedy of losing my father, Don Shirley, a respected role model and community hero. In writing these posts, I hope that I might be able to share personal insight into the hurdles that had to be cleared before the growth of Uplifting Athletes could begin. I encourage you to share your own thoughts and experiences with me as I relive this journey.
Bill Curry, the longtime coach whose stops included Georgia Tech, Alabama, Kentucky and Georgia State, once told me that true leadership is made up of the unexpected, undeserving, selfless acts of kindness that people cannot deny. Boston College went down to Clemson during the third week of the 2009 season. Before the game, Clemson’s head coach handed Mark Herzlich a $5,000 donation to Boston College’s chapter of Uplifting Athletes. He didn’t make a big deal out of it; he just wanted to help the cause. A few local newspapers picked up the story, and my phone started ringing off the hook.
Virginia Tech wanted to do something to help, so the players on its scout team sold wristbands during a home game to raise money for Uplifting Athletes. Then Florida State presented a check to Uplifting Athletes when “ESPN Gameday” visited Boston College.
The following week, North Carolina State players donated their meal money to start a campus-wide fundraising campaign. Players at the University of Virginia worked with their student government to create the 1100s for Herzlich campaign. The Orange Bowl Committee, Lott Trophy, ACC Officials and Charlie Weis all made donations throughout the season, too. All inspired by a truly selfless act.
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