One of Washington Redskins quarterback Mark Brunell’s scariest moments did not take place at FedEx Field, but in a hospital.
When Brunell’s oldest son, Jack, was 6 months old, he was diagnosed with Respiratory Synctial Virus (RSV), a virus that causes bronchialitis. Jack was in the hospital for three days.
"I felt helpless," said the 217-pound Brunell. "Whatever your child’s fighting, you want the best doctors, the best nurses and the best equipment for them."
Several years later, Brunell and his wife started the Brunell Family Foundation, a nonprofit organization.
"Our mission is to help sick children and families with sick children," Brunell said.
THE FATHER OF FOUR pulled up to his Great Falls home in a pick-up truck Tuesday. His three dogs and 4-year-old son, Luke, greeted him at the door. His daughter, Katelyn, handed her father a cold water bottle, while her brother, Joseph, rummaged through the refrigerator for a snack.
Brunell sat down at his kitchen with a pile of papers in hand, to discuss the First Annual Mark Brunell Classic.
"We’ve been here for a couple years now and it’s time we give back to the community," Brunell said.
The Classic will benefit the Leukemia and Lymphoma Society’s National Capital Area Chapter. The local chapter serves Washington, D.C., Loudoun, Prince Williams, Fairfax, Arlington counties in Virginia and Prince George’s and Montgomery counties in Maryland.
The Leukemia and Lymphoma Society’s National Capital Area Chapter campaign director Mary Angelo said the money raised from the event will go directly to the society’s mission, to cure leukemia, lymphoma and myeloma and to improve the lives of patients and their families.
"The money we raise will go toward this special cause," Brunell said. "It’s a great organization, a worthy cause. And there’s a need for this kind of research. It seemed like a good fit."
TOURNAMENT SPONSOR Roger Mody has worked with the Leukemia and Lymphoma Society before.
Mody, chairman of the Mody Foundation, a Vienna-based organization to help oversee medical initiatives and cures, said he is participating in the tournament for all the right reasons.
"Over the past 12 months, I’ve met Mark and I support and appreciate the effort he’s made to bring attention to a worthy cause," Mody said.
Mody, a five-year member of Lowes Island Club, is anxious to play golf with 20 present and former Washington Redskins players.
"These guys are asked to take part in numerous events throughout the year," he said. "They’re coming to Lowes Island to pay tribute to the Leukemia Society and to Mark."
The sold out event will be held at Lowes Island Club in Potomac Falls, Monday, April 24.
"Lowes Island is an ideal spot for an event like this," Brunell said. "It’s a nice club with nice people and they were willing to help us out."
The event will start at 9 a.m. with a continental breakfast. Golfers will tee off at 10:30 a.m.
The participants will break for lunch, served on the golf course, between 11:30 a.m. and 1:30 p.m. At 4 p.m. there will be a reception, buffet dinner and silent and live auctions.
"It’s important to me that the money stays here," Brunell said. "We have a lot of local sponsors and golfers. The money should stay here for kids with difficulties in our area."
BRUNELL hopes the tournament will be an annual event.
"We hope to make it better next year and the year after that, and the year after," Brunell said. "We’re hoping this is the beginning of something that continues."
Brunell has two goals for the day; to raise a lot of money for the kids, and to have a lot of fun.
"Everybody that comes out to play will get to play with a current or former Redskins," he said. "A lot of people look up to the Redskins and this is an opportunity for them to make a difference."