A recent episode of the Crazy Good Turns podcast features a boy who was diagnosed with leukemia at age 4. The prognosis isn’t good. It’s a rare form of the disease, and will require a transplant to beat. And it’s going to take awhile to find the right donor.
A Game Changer
The treatments take a toll on the boy. They’re demanding physically and draining mentally and spiritually. Each day is a fight. Except for that one day: The day of the Senior Bowl.
“That Was Just the Best Day”
“Every year, this time of year, he says, ‘Oh man, that was just the best day,” says the boy’s father, Terry Davis. “Because he hadn’t had a whole lot of great days up until that point – most of them had been spent in hospitals and doctor’s offices.”
But the Senior Bowl was different. That day the boy, whose name is Taylor, got to walk side-by-side with some of the biggest names in college football. Dallas Cowboys’ quarterback Dak Prescott, who at the time was a senior from Mississippi State, befriended the boy. Taylor stood before a crowd of tens of thousands, and heard all of those fans cheer him on. And he got to meet many of his heroes from the University of Alabama – a dream come true for the young man.
“’Roll Tide’ were some of the first words to come out of his mouth,” recalls Davis, who resides in Mobile, Alabama.
Davis goes on to recount how, during the course of their experience at that game, his son stood taller, smiled brighter, and finally got to feel what every kid deserves: joy.
Special Spectators Program
That joy was made possible by an organization called Special Spectators. It’s a nonprofit organization that gives sick children like Taylor a VIP sports experience like no other. Last season, the organization partnered with 38 Division I schools and brought smiles to hundreds of sick kids.
Crazy Good Turns Podcast
If you want to get a whole new appreciation for the power of sports, then it’s worth tuning in to the Special Spectators episode of the Crazy Good Turns podcast.
The Crazy Good Turns podcast introduces you to the founder of Special Spectators, Blake Rockwell. For more than a decade and a half, Rockwell has dedicated his time to Special Spectators and the kids it serves. He receives no salary for his work. During the episode, you’ll hear about the deep personal connection that drives Rockwell to do the work, the incredible experiences that athletes and coaches have provided to kids, and – best of all – how life changed for the better for Taylor and Terry.
The Power of Inspiration: You Get What You Celebrate
Crazy Good Turns is a bit of a feel-good story of it’s own. If you ever spent time in the Boy Scouts, you may recognize the name. It’s drawn from the Scouts motto: “Do a Good Turn Daily.” The show was launched by two former Home Depot executives, former CEO Frank Blake and Brad Shaw, a communications VP. Their goal is to celebrate good deeds, big and small. Why?
“One of the profound learnings for me from Home Depot was that you get what you celebrate,” Blake said in a video about the show. “Whatever you celebrate sets the pattern for what people will try to give you.”
Basically, Blake and Shaw are asking an audacious question: Can a podcast about people who do good help inspire others to do the same? And entering its third season, the show has shined a light on several people and organizations who are doing things to make the world a better place. That includes people from the world of sports.
Sports and Athletes Give in More Ways Than One
Before the episode on Special Spectators, Crazy Good Turns highlighted the work of 1996 Heisman Trophy winner Danny Wuerffel. Since leaving the NFL, Wuerffel has led an Atlanta non-profit called Desire Street Ministries. His roots with the organization date back to his days in New Orleans, where he started at quarterback for the Saints. Wuerffel says the lessons he learned as an athlete still guide him today.
“The idea of getting people together who are different, and have different beliefs, socio-economic, political outlooks, and all of that, and all of them coming together to work together toward a common goal is an incredibly beautiful thing,” Wuerffel said. “The beauty of football is to see that happen.”
It’s also inspiring to see how sports lift the spirits of the young people served by Special Spectators. The show offers insight into what a privilege it is to be an athlete or a coach, and have the unique opportunity to inspire others.
“Kids really love sports because they provide a release for them — a way to not think about everything that they’re going through, their illness, and the impact on their families,” says Special Spectators founder Blake Rockwell. “That’s why I think sports are such a key thing for kids, and especially kids who are battling a life-threatening illness.”
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