Today marks the third annual All-Star Survivors luncheon at Redskins Park, an event at which women currently battling breast cancer are celebrated by Redskins players, coaches, and wives; given a chance to support one another; and pampered with a selection of products chosen to make some of the less obvious aspects of their battle a little bit more pleasant.
It’s Roxi McNabb’s first such luncheon, of course, but it’s not a type of event that’s unfamiliar to her. “I think you’ll find within the NFL that you have a lot of people within organizations who do have stories,” McNabb says, “and who do want to reach out to people and help, so I think that from that perspective it’s commonplace.”
The Redskins event is hosted by two couples who do, as McNabb suggests, have stories: Emma and Derrick Dockery and Christy and Chris Cooley. Emma Dockery lost her mother to cancer four years ago, and Chris Cooley’s mother Nancy is a survivor of breast cancer. It was Nancy Cooley’s battle that inspired the first incarnation of this event two years ago.
“I remember her coming over to my house, and her hair had started falling out enough that you could notice,” Cooley explained today. “And she asked me if I would buzz her hair. And that was really — I mean, it was emotional. After that and chemo, her appearance drastically started to change. And it’s hard because her spirit’s still there and she was fighting, but you look at yourself in the mirror and you look sick.
“So I got together with the Redskins Charitable Foundation and put together an event that we could do,” Cooley continued, “and I kinda just thought about some of the things that my mom was going through. She needed a wig, or at least the opportunity to look at different wigs; obviously makeup, and jeans, and stuff like that.”
The inspiration was the cosmetic aspect, but, Cooley says, it turned into even more. “I donated money to buy all the stuff, and all these ladies came and I think more than them getting the different items, what was special was that they got to spend all that time together. I think that they really enjoyed it.”
Emma Dockery saw much the same thing after becoming involved with the event last year. “I think we found last year that, when we talked to the women after the fact, the biggest thing they felt was the love and the support,” she says. “And I think that aside from all the things that you get, there’s nothing like the human interaction.”
And — lest you draw a very wrong conclusion from Roxi McNabb’s earlier quote — she was thrilled to be involved with something like this. “I think when it’s an event that really touches people, it has so much more meaning, you know? This are people who are battling for their lives,” she says, “and to have the opportunity to do something positive for them, it makes all the difference in the world.”
Each of its first three years, the event has grown exponentially. “I mean, we have half the players’ and coaches’ wives here today,” Cooley says, clearly pleased by the turnout, “and a bunch of guys showed up, too. The Today Show is here.”
“It’s a wonderful feeling to be able to see it grow like this,” Emma Dockery adds, “just from the standpoint of — not only are they supporting us, but they’re supporting the cause. Which is the most important thing.”
Dockery was responsible for another addition last year: special wives’ jerseys with pink numbers and names. And, with the increased number of wives in attendance, the number of customized jerseys had increased accordingly. “It’s kinda caught on a lot more than I thought,” Dockery said. “Apparently people like how the numbers are pink, and I think it’s a nice little look.”
(Roxi McNabb laughed when I pointed out how many alternate versions of her husband’s Redskins jersey she’d accrued in a relatively short tenure here so far, what with this jersey, her 5 McNabb basketball jersey, her 5 McNabb basketball warmups, and whatever other 5 McNabb jerseys she had. She was hesitant to choose a favorite, but noted “I kinda like the basketball jersey. That one’s mine.”)
Cooley was just pleased to see the event continue to flourish and grow. “It’s one of those events where you leave and it’s such a good feeling,” he said, “and it really — it’s really a fun charity event. You don’t leave here and think, ‘Oh, yeah, I hope I spent my time okay, but….’ You leave really happy.”
Tags: all-star survivors luncheon, Chris Cooley, Derrick Dockery, emma dockery, roxi mcnabb, washington redskins charitable foundation
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