The folks sitting with Donovan McNabb in the picture above are the Duck family, of Gainesville, Virginia. From left to right (and skipping Donovan), that’s Ellen, Isaiah, Charles, and Isaac Duck.
Isaac, who you see here in his black shirt holding a signed football, was diagnosed with lymphoma on New Year’s Day, 2009. He underwent seven rounds of chemotherapy and a major surgery to remove his tumor, and — as his father proudly told me — has now been “nine months cancer-free.” He was the “honored patient” at Monday’s Jason Campbell Leukemia Golf Classic, and Campbell — then still the quarterback of the Washington Redskins — visited Isaac and his family when they were selected to that honor.
And the way Charles Duck talks about that visit should answer any question you might have about if athletes are just phoning it in when they participate in charity events.
“When Jason first got there, my sons and I were out shooting baskets,” Duck told me. “I had gotten them out of school early. And he and Mary [of the Leukemia & Lymphoma Society] pulled up; he got out and introduced himself, asked to meet Isaac, and they talked for a minute. Then he started shooting baskets with ’em. We must’ve shot baskets for maybe a half hour, forty minutes. He talked to my oldest son Alex, just — Alex asked him about life in general; he gave him some great, great, great input. It’s a lot of things that I had said to my son before, but Jason just reinforced it, and I loved that.”
Duck continued, “Then we came in, sat around and had some fruit, talked about life. We didn’t talk about the Redskins at all, or his possible pending departure. And he is just a fantastic human being. I had heard a lot about him previously, and everything was true.”
In fact, although Duck was pleased with Chris Cooley and Donovan McNabb‘s efforts in Campbell’s absence, he was the exception to my suggestion yesterday that players could step in for one another at these charity events. “I wanted to see [Campbell] one more time before he departed,” Duck told me. “I wanted to personally thank him again.”
It was a visit that resonated with Isaac as well: now that, in his father’s words, “he has no limitations,” he’s looking to add flag football to a crowded sports calendar that also includes soccer and basketball. And in addition to the Redskins, he says he’ll now be rooting for Campbell with the Oakland Raiders as well.
Campbell, Duck reiterated, was at their house “for maybe two-and-a-half hours, and we just socialized, talked, laughed, joked. He’s amazing.”
“Yeah,” Isaac Duck added. “He’s a good guy.”
So, yes, those type of athlete visits make a difference. And, no, they’re not just phoning it in. You could hear it when Chris Cooley and Donovan McNabb discussed the importance of community work that night, and Charles and Isaac Duck just reaffirmed it.
Tags: Chris Cooley, donovan mcnabb, leukemia and lymphoma society
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