I visited St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital for the first time last year after hearing about the amazing work being done there by scientists and clinicians. I really didn’t know what to expect, but I was blown away by the whole experience — especially the positive attitude of the patients and the welcoming environment the hospital provides as they undergo treatment.
My first stop was Target House, where I visited with patients and families who stay there while receiving long-term treatment. I was impressed by the children’s personalities and the courage and the bravery that they displayed. Some of these kids had been receiving treatment for months, yet they maintained positive attitudes. In life, just as in the game of football, it helps to have a positive frame of mind to get over any type of obstacle.
Walking through the halls of St. Jude, you wouldn’t think you were in a hospital if you didn’t see doctors walking around. It felt more like a home than a hospital.
I also had the opportunity to visit laboratories, where I witnessed some of the research being conducted not only on cancer but also sickle cell disease, which is important to me because of its prevalence among African Americans.
During my tour, I learned that it takes $1.8 million to keep the hospital operating each day. Most of that money is generated by donations. As I was visiting the different areas of the hospital, I began to think of ways that I could help raise money for St. Jude.
Those thoughts developed into the St. Jude Warren Moon Hall of Fame Invitational golf tournament, which was timed to coincide with the National Football League’s Pro Bowl Game in January of this year. We had a great day of golf on the Hawaiian island of Oahu. Four-person teams competed in a scramble format, with all proceeds benefiting St. Jude. The foursomes featured current and Hall of Fame players such as Eric Dickerson, Larry Fitzgerald and Tony Gonzalez. A party for Pro Bowl players the night before the tournament also served as a fundraiser.
I was happy to help St. Jude in my own way, and I would encourage anyone who wants to make a difference to do the same in their own way.
Seeing the work done at St. Jude was a life-changing experience for me. St. Jude is also changing the lives of children by taking situations that seem hopeless and turning them into positive stories because of great treatment and research.
Warren Moon is the only player inducted into both the Pro Football Hall of Fame and the Canadian Football Hall of Fame. A former quarterback for the Houston Oilers, Minnesota Vikings, Seattle Seahawks, Kansas City Chiefs and the Edmonton Eskimos, Moon currently works as an analyst for the Seahawks’ gameday broadcast crew.
Reprinted from Promise Autumn 2012