The Brown family became involved with The ChadTough Foundation in 2016 when Don Brown became the defensive coordinator at the University of Michigan. They had tremendous respect for Coach Lloyd Carr and the mission of the foundation after learning about Chad and his battle with DIPG.
Deb and Don began participating in various ChadTough events, and Coach Brown even dyed his mustache orange when Chase Winovich challenged other teammates to “go orange” as a fundraiser for the foundation during the 2017 Outback Bowl. Chase’s efforts raised over $200,000 (which was then matched by Regent Ron Weiser) and funded additional lab space for DIPG research at Michigan Medicine.
Over the years, Deb and Tammi Carr grew close, sharing a passion for serving others in need. “Tammi’s drive in the face of her own personal tragedy and adversity was so inspiring and motivated Coach Brown and me to get involved,” said Deb.
A few months ago, Tammi told Deb about a little boy in California who was battling a pediatric brain tumor. Six-year-old Wyatt Rodart was preparing to travel back and forth to Ann Arbor to participate in a nine-week clinical trial with Michigan Medicine. Tammi asked Deb if she would be willing to be a friendly contact for Wyatt’s family and help give them the full Michigan football experience.
In November, Deb was able to gift the Rodart family with tickets to the Michigan vs Michigan State football game. Prior to the game, the Browns were able to meet the family and give Wyatt a big hug.
“Wyatt’s smile was so infectious,” said Deb. “When the band started to play and march in place next to Wyatt, he laughed hysterically and had a smile from ear to ear. It’s a moment that will be etched in my memory. In the face of tremendous adversity, the Rodart family was a great example of how even during times of struggle and challenge, gratitude is still possible.”
Wyatt’s parents, Jake and Chrissy, are trying to make as many special family memories as possible and were thrilled with the welcome they received. “My family left the stadium today with happy hearts,” said Chrissy. “Not just because we got to experience this game, but because we experienced pure human kindness. It’s real! People really do have great hearts! As our world has been turned upside down this year, we are reminded often that life is still good. We try hard to continue living our best lives making amazing memories and enjoying every day.”
Thank you, Deb and Don Brown, for all you do!
– Jennifer DeGregorio, Director of Communications, The ChadTough Foundation