Friday, May 02, 2008

The Three Amigos

The pimpitude of Notes lately has risen to an alarming level, and I promise we're going to get back to strict ND-sports-related stuff shortly. But not before I bend your ear one last time to tell you about an event that touches both my ND and non-ND selves.

My daughter was diagnosed with an autistic spectrum disorder a number of years ago. With the help of our pediatrician, our psychologist and our school district, and the efforts of family and friends, she's now very high-functioning and completely mainstreamed in school, although not without occasional reminders of the challenges she faces socially.

But getting her there was a long and sometimes arduous journey, and my wife and I remember well those initial weeks and months when we knew something was wrong with her but didn't know what and didn't know what to do. In those days, we were lucky to get good help, not only from the aforementioned folks but also from various support and advocacy groups, who came ready with suggestions and warnings that made the whole thing easier than it could have been.

I'm not in a position where I can volunteer for groups of that kind. I found sharing my story with other parents tended to depress as much as encourage, especially if their children were deeper on the spectrum than my daughter and/or had a less rosy prognosis. Given how my schedule gets, volunteering time was difficult as well. So in order to try and repay the help we received in those dark days, my wife and I decided to be as generous with our checkbooks as we could to support financially the kind of groups providing such crucial aid. This is what led me to donate proceeds from EotH to the Autism Society of Illinois.

So you can imagine my delight when I heard about Hannah and Friends. An opportunity to fulfill my pledge to help organizations that focus on the developmentally disabled by donating to an organization that has a tertiary connection to Notre Dame? Bonus. Ever since, I've contributed annually to H&F and encouraged people I know to do the same, not because of any connection to Charlie Weis (who, I'm sure, wouldn't know who I was if I walked into his office and kicked him in the shins -- although I'm sure he'd know me after that) but rather through my efforts to ensure other parents whose children have autism can get the same kind of help my wife and I received.

Then came an opportunity to take it a step further, and that's the reason for my missive today.

On July 31st of this year, H&F will be co-sponsoring the third (and final) Notre Dame Coaches Kickoff for Charity. Charlie Weis, Lou Holtz, and Ara Parseighian will all speak, and the proceeds from the event will be split evenly between their three charities. The first two events were held in New York City and Los Angeles, and were very successful. This time, they'll be at the Palmer House in Chicago. I was asked to serve on the committee for this year's event, and we want to make it the best of the three.

Let's make this clear from the outset, this is a pricey undertaking. Tickets are $1,000 apiece. Other sponsorship levels are available that include having a celebrity seated at your table and access to a cocktail hour before the dinner where the coaches and other Notre Dame and Chicago sports greats will mingle.

But I'm a big believer in putting the information out there and letting people make their choice. Perhaps your company or employer is looking for a charitable giving opportunity. You could be in need of a tax deduction. Or maybe your great-aunt Muriel just left you a million dollars in Indian-head pennies.

Regardless, if you are fortunate enough to be in a position to consider the event, I encourage you in the strongest possible terms to go. Not only is it an opportunity to hear three outstanding speeches and really allow your ND fanaticism to wax, the money will go to three great causes: Hannah & Friends, the Holtz Charitable Foundation, and the Ara Parseghian Medical Research Foundation. It may not be the biggest no-brainer in the history of Earth, but it's in the team picture.

If you have interest, you can contact me via email and I'll get you set up.

Thanks for your attention, we now return you to your regularly-scheduled analysis of ND's ground game and potential basketball transfers-in.

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Blogger Mike Coffey said...

One other thing -- don't feel you can't attend just because you don't live in Chicago. This will be the last opportunity to hear all three of these guys speak in the same forum, so whether you're in Milwaukee, Detroit, Indianapolis, St. Louis, or points in between, give it some thought.

5/02/2008 07:47:00 AM  
Anonymous Sir John from DD said...

I missed the original article you posted on this. I sympathise with you and your wife, but glad your daughter was able to improve.

You are both doing what you can, that;s all that is expected.

5/02/2008 01:00:00 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Nicely done Bonger...I know this was written with heartfelt emotion considering your personal situation but also because of your love for ND and its mission and message beyond football, hoops and even academics. Cheers my friend!
I look forward with great pleasure to working with you to make the Chicago event a tremendous success for a few very worthy causes.


5/02/2008 10:46:00 PM  

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