Chad. Avery. Lily. Joey. Jack. Brooke. Michael. Gabriella. Victor. Aidan. AJ. Jason. Julian. Emma. Emma. Madelyn.
The list, unfortunately, goes on.
These names represent children who have passed away from Diffuse Intrinsic Pontine Glioma, or DIPG. These names also represent why winning the Infiniti Coaches Charity Challenge is so incredibly important for Michigan men’s basketball coach John Beilein, his wife, Kathleen, and The ChadTough Foundation.
I was invited by the Carr family to help promote the Infiniti Challenge back in December. Chad hadn’t even been gone one month when we all gathered around the dining room table to discuss strategy.
The love in the room was palpable, even though many surrounding it were meeting for the first time. Even The Saint Louis Center — the charity Coach Beilein had chosen for the challenge the previous four years — had a representative there to help.
It was all about Chad, the other precious lives lost to this disease, and building the legacy of those lives. We had a strategy to promote it and we were excited to get started.
Through that meeting, the idea for ChadTough Champions was born. So many individuals had already pledged their allegiance to the Carr family, it only seemed natural to give them an official title.
Mere days after promoting the exclusive group, more than 1,700 people had joined through email and Facebook. As new members were added, story after story was shared of how Chad had touched lives. Some had lost children of their own, some learned to live life more deeply, and some simply felt the pull to help.
The electricity in the group was — and still is — magnificent. It’s not easy to get a group of 2,000-plus people to agree on any one thing (especially when that group is made up of Wolverines, Spartans, and Buckeyes), but this group has.
They agreed to engage, plan, and sacrifice to bring awareness and research funds to DIPG.
Beyond the Contest
This amazing group of people hasn’t just come together to vote, they’ve come together to do. Throughout this eight-week process, Champion after Champion has raised money through fundraisers and t-shirt sales. They’ve raised awareness through social media, email, and hiding trinkets around town for unsuspecting people to find.
They’ve committed completely and their will to win hasn’t waned. The beautiful thing, though, is that this group won’t stop once the contest is complete. They will continue to volunteer, fundraise, and spread the word.
Their lives have been changed forever because of Chad Carr and other precious children lost to DIPG.
I’ve been around other charity voting contests, so I know they can be deceiving. Experienced charities understand how to win these contests. I once watched a charity I was associated with handedly lead a competition for five weeks only to come in fifth in the final two hours of the contest.
It’s nothing new. As much as we’d like to believe that business isn’t a part of these competitions, there is definitely strategy to it, fair and square.
There’s just one problem. Business or not, we’re talking about DIPG families here.
We’re talking about families who have endured pure hell and lived to preach the gospel. Families who cling to one another and love one another and pray for one another because they understand one another. Families who are living for the legacy of their children, which means finding a cure for DIPG.
As nice as $100,000 would be for DIPG and The ChadTough Foundation, this contest has already acted as an important catalyst for DIPG.
It led to the assembly a team of more than 2,000 warriors to fight the cause. It started the process of revealing the faces and stories of precious lives lost to this disease. It shed some much-needed light on this catastrophic problem that needs attention.
Whether Coach Beilein wins or not, DIPG has made big strides in spreading awareness this challenge.
But Wait …
This absolutely does not mean we are hunky-dory about getting into the final round. Coach Beilein, Mrs. Beilein, the Carr family, the ChadTough Champions, and the entire Michigan community (and beyond) is fully prepared to win that $100,000 on behalf of these children.
And you can help.
All you have to do is add your email address to our voting list and you will receive a daily reminder until the contest ends on March 13. Once the contest ends, we will destroy the list (if you want to continue receiving emails, you can sign up to the a ChadTough Champion).
It’s a small gesture that will go so far in the name of DIPG.
Help us win this one for Chad.