Touchdown, St. Jude

Football stars turn fundraising champs for the hospital.

By David Williams

football team presents a check to St. Jude

The seeds were sown in study hall. They sprouted at St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital.

It sounds more like a parable than a game plan for a football team to win a national championship. But it’s just how Lausanne Collegiate School teammates Isaac Weiss and Eric Gray drew it up.

Lausanne, a Memphis private school with a tradition of football dominance, raised more than $19,000 for St. Jude to win the 2018 Touchdowns Against Cancer national championship. The Lynx were led by seniors Weiss, the kicker with an eye toward the Ivy League, and Gray, one of the nation’s top-rated all-purpose backs.

“Being a good football player is half of you,” says Gray, who decided to dedicate his season to St. Jude after a study-hall conversation with Weiss. “You’ve also got to be a good person.”

Gray’s touchdowns raised more than $3,000 for the kids of St. Jude; Weiss’ kicks accounted for more than $11,000.

Touchdowns Against Cancer is a national fundraising program in which St. Jude partners with MaxPreps, a website covering high school sports, and Pledge It, a sports fundraising site. Donors pledge a specific amount per touchdown — or field goal and extra point, in Weiss’s case — or make a one-time donation.

“Basically, my thought process is, this could be my last year playing football,” Weiss says. “No one’s going to remember a high school career playing football, but doing something like Touchdowns Against Cancer and Pledge It really lets me leave something after I’m done.”

As they hoisted the Touchdowns Against Cancer trophy during a visit to the St. Jude campus, the Lynx had an 8-0 record and a No. 1 state ranking. They’d won 35 straight games overall — a streak that began with Weiss’ debut as the team’s kicker.

“They’re leaders, obviously, within our football program. But they’re leaders within our school community,” says Lausanne coach and athletic director Kevin Locastro. “They’re kids who have really good heads on their shoulders. They come up with good ideas and good concepts, and they’re not scared to execute them.”

From Promise, Winter, 2019

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