In 2011, while my husband Chuck was the defensive coordinator for the Tennessee Titans, we made the decision to foster and ideally adopt a child.
We plowed through our home study and jumped through the adoption hoops alongside our friend, Kelly Putty, the founder of Ordinary Hero, a charity that partners with impoverished communities to change the lives of children in need. Shortly before I was to depart for an orphanage in Africa, Chuck — and the rest of the Titans’ staff — was let go. It caused a hiccup in our adoption plan as we had no idea where we would be living the following year. The hope of extending our family was put on hold. But God had another plan. Within 10 days of postponing our trip, Kelly asked me to join her in downtown Nashville. She was assisting a homeless mother and her three children. They needed a safe home for a 4-year-old boy.
With the blessing of his birth mother, we took in this beautiful young man into our home and hearts, and our lives were forever better for it. Not only did we get to share part of his remarkable story, but it fueled our passion to help kids all around the country.
This past week was no different. Superior Court Judge Joan Wagener asked Chuck and I to volunteer at a sibling reunion celebration for foster children. Kids who enter the foster care system are often separated from their brothers and sisters.
Child service agencies, the Department of Child Safety and the Pima County Juvenile Court Center brought together more than 70 children from 23 different sibling groups at a local park to enjoy carnival games, face painting, Eegees and the basic gift of time together. Police and sheriffs officers joined local firefighters and volunteers, including former Arizona Wildcats and Buffalo Bills standout John Fina. Fina poured encouragement and laughter into these kids and inspired all of us to keep pushing toward our dreams, work hard, tow the line and love, love, love!
Want to make a difference in the life of a child, become a foster or adoptive home? Visit Foster and Adoptive Council of Tucson (FACT) at fosterandadoptivecounciloftucson.org or visit www.ordinaryhero.org.
In the biz
Too often the headlines surrounding professional athletes, coaches, agents or even leagues tend to be negative. The remarkable stories of professional sports organizations, their players, coaches and reps often get shuffled to the back page.
Well, not today! Did you know that the NFL alone has given over $370 million to nonprofits? And that Chris Long of the Philadelphia Eagles donated his paycheck for an entire season to charity? One of my favorite people and clients is football agent Brian Levy, the founder of Goal Line Football. Levy quietly raises critical dollars through ElliesArmy.org to provide financial assistance to children battling critical illness. Levy’s daughter, Ellie, had Cystic Fibrosis and passed away four years ago.
“It’s both personal and professional to me,” Levy said. “At Goal Line, it’s more than jobs or dollars. We’re a family, and it’s fantastic to know that in this business if you go through a tragedy, you have your family and extended family behind you.”
I encourage you to visit ElliesArmy.org and watch the video of Ellie on the home page to learn why giving to charities is so important.
I was recently interviewed by Abby Zenger, a student from UA Eller College of Management, about being a woman CEO of a tech-driven social media education company. While Abby’s questions were very thoughtful, the last one, “Do you think the world would be better off without social media?” gave me pause.
Many parents and coaches would jump up and down and scream “yes,” but the truth is that social media has changed the world in revolutionary ways. Social media helps us tackle many of the globe’s biggest issues. From climate change to human rights violations, fighting injustices and — my favorite — fundraising, social media is so much more than just taking selfies. While education is the key to helping users understand how to positively impact the digital ecosystem, my answer to Abby was that the pros of social media far outweigh the cons. Need social media education? Contact me at firstname.lastname@example.org
We’ve all seen the crazy parents at our kids’ sporting events who have lost their ever-loving minds hurling instructions at their athletes. Yes, I do lead the chant at my daughter Charli’s volleyball games. However, I recognize that it’s a middle school game. Yet there are those parents who take their kid’s competitive skills a wee-bit too seriously. That type of insanity is what inspired NFL Network’s Alex Flanagan, a Salpointe Catholic High School and UA grad, to co-found the website ILoveToWatchYouPlay.com
Flanagan and veteran sports producer Asia Mape launched the site for parents who are seeking balance and sanity in youth sports. If you are struggling with youth sports or know someone who is, visit their site for inspiration, laughs and great advice.