Everyday is a gift for 12-year-old Leesburg resident Brendan Lackey and Washington Redskins football player Mark Brunell made Monday’s gift a little more special.
For the second year in a row, the NFL quarterback raised money for the Leukemia and Lymphoma Society by playing a round of golf with fellow Redskins football players, former Redskin football players alum and a handful of fans, at the Lowes Island Club Monday, April 23, and Brendan was the guest of honor.
Brendan, who is an aspiring architect and avid photographer, helped kick off the event by thanking participants in a speech by Brunell’s side.
"I’m just happy people are out here supporting me," Brendan said. "It’s for a good cause."
The Smart’s Mill Middle School student was diagnosed with leukemia just before he entered the sixth grade last year.
LAST YEAR, MARK BRUNELL’S Golf Classic raised more than $158,000 for the national chapter of the Leukemia and Lymphoma Society based in Alexandria.
Brendan’s mother, Paula Lackey, said events like the Mark Brunell Classic are important because they help raise funds to find cures for cancers.
"It’s such a hard disease to watch people go through," Paula Lackey said. "Events like these help to find a cure for not just Brendan, but for a lot of people battling the disease."
Redskins football player Anthony Trucks said he signed up for the tournament to give back to the community and share some of the positive experiences he’s had in life with some deserving children.
"A lot of people did things for me growing up to help me succeed," the 23-year-old linebacker said. "I’m trying to pay it forward, give back in a sense."
Redskins linebacker Roger "Rocky" McIntosh signed up to raise money for the Leukemia and Lymphoma Society for similar reasons.
"I wouldn’t be here if it wasn’t for the help of some people," he said. "It’s important to take time out, be a mentor, make someone feel special."
One thing Brunell hopes to instill in his four children is the idea of community service, and through the Brunell Family Foundation, an organization set up to do just that, he hopes to expose his children to community service at an early age.
"I try to set a good example for my kids," he said.
BRUNELL ENCOURAGES his daughter, Caitlin, and his three sons to get involved with the community as much as they can.
"You certainly do not have to play in the NFL to do something like this," Brunell said. "Caitlin’s project is a perfect example."
Caitlin Brunell started her own project, "Caitlin’s Closet." Throughout the year, the freshman at Georgetown Visitation High School collects and distributed new and used formal wear and accessories to high-school students that may not be able to attend their proms or social functions because of financial restrictions.
"She’s got the right idea," Brunell said. "I want my kids to know it’s important to reach out to the community, to serve the community you live in."