The Magic of Hope Gala American Parkinson’s Association
We were lucky to meet many warriors of the disease who are valiantly fighting as well. We were happy to help raise awareness and money for programs and research that we believe will help those afflicted.
Copyright 2014 Garet Munger
We were humbled that Russell Wilson would take a moment to help support our cause by speaking and donating.
Attached is a clip from his tribute to Don.
I know Don was honored to hear Russell’s words but honestly, upon reflection we both agreed that he had given a gift to the Parkinson’s community and our family – especially, our girls.
As the disease progresses and the father they once knew is harder and harder to see, they will have this small token from Russell.
Helping them remember what a difference Don made in his career as a coach and human being.
The title of the article …. Russell Wilson’s Kindness Leaves A Mark…. we should all ask~ what mark will we leave. It’s easy to get consumed in our daily lives but I hope we all take time out to better the lives of others- on a super bowl level!
NEW YORK — One day in 2009, Russell Wilson found himself addressing hundreds of students at St. Timothy’s School in Raleigh, N.C.
We Can ALL do great things!
The topic was bullying.
At the time, Wilson was the starting quarterback for NC State and a first-team All-ACC selection. Maura Horton, the wife of Wolfpack offensive line coach Don Horton, had invited Wilson to speak at St. Timothy’s because the couple’s daughter attended the school and a friend of the family who worked there wanted to be proactive in starting a dialogue about the harmful effects of bullying.
They all figured the amiable Wilson was the perfect guy to stand up and talk about doing the right thing. What they didn’t know was that he also had a confession to make.
Turns out, Wilson had been a bit of a bully himself.
It sounds hard to believe for anyone who has followed Wilson’s ascension to football’s biggest stage. On Sunday, the 5-foot-11, second-year pro will lead the Seattle Seahawks against future Hall of Famer Peyton Manning and the Denver Broncos in Super Bowl XLVIII.
But Maura Horton remembers watching all the kids that day at St. Timothy’s as they listened with rapt attention to the young man whose ease and openness allowed him to immediately connect with his audience.
“We were surprised to learn what he said,” Horton told espnW this week. “Russell doesn’t seem like someone who ever could have behaved that way. But because of his honesty, the kids were blown away by him.”
Wilson told the students that when he was younger he would sometimes be mean to his classmates on the playground because he thought that would make the “cool kids” like him more. It took a teacher pulling him aside one day for Wilson to realize there was nothing cool about taunting someone.
“You don’t want to act like that,” the teacher said, reminding Wilson that being good at sports wasn’t a free pass for bad behavior. The message: Sports are fleeting, but words and deeds are permanent.
“Your actions stay with you forever,” Wilson told the students, “so you want to make sure those actions are something you’re proud of in the future.”
The Horton family knows a thing or two about Wilson and meaningful actions. To them, he is a man whose awareness and sensitivity changed their lives.
About a year ago, Maura launched Magna Ready, a business inspired by an interaction between her husband and Wilson after NC State lost a road game during the 2009 season. Don Horton suffers from Parkinson’s disease, although he had not told anyone on the team back then. Because of media obligations, Wilson was one of the last players getting dressed that day, and he noticed that Horton was struggling to button his shirt. The team bus was waiting outside, so the sophomore quarterback stopped what he was doing and, without saying a word, buttoned his coach’s shirt.
When Don arrived home that night, he told his wife what had happened. He confessed his embarrassment and felt distraught that a layer of his independence had been stripped away. But an idea was born: magnetic buttons for dress shirts.
Maura Horton sent Wilson a handwritten thank-you note after hearing about his interaction with her husband. She says she believes Wilson’s awareness in the locker room was heightened by what was happening in his own life as he watched his father’s health decline. Harrison Wilson III died in June 2010 of complications from diabetes. Russell then transferred to Wisconsin after his junior season.
“Most players are focused on themselves after a loss,” Maura Horton said. “It was just a brief moment, but his dad was sick at the time, and I think Russell had a higher sense; he was just one of those guys who got it.”
Last summer, the Hortons and their two daughters visited Wilson at his passing academy in his hometown of Richmond, Va. At one point, the conversation turned to hopes and goals, and Wilson said he wants to win four Super Bowls. Unsure why he picked that number, Maura Horton went home and did a Google search, learning that if Wilson someday wins four titles he will tie Terry Bradshaw and Joe Montana as the quarterbacks with the most Super Bowl rings.
During Wednesday’s media availability in New Jersey, Wilson discussed his pursuit of greatness.
“If someone tells me no, I’m going to try to do the best I can to prove them wrong — more for myself than anyone else,” he said. “I’m a self-motivator. I believe that God has given me a sense of leadership to be able to motivate other people, but also myself. I want to be the best one day, and I’m not going to shy away from that. I’ve got a long ways to go, but I think, to be honest with you, God has put me here for a particular reason.”
The way the Hortons see it, Wilson’s legacy is already set.
This Sunday there is an amazing NFL game on – The Seattle Seahawks vs The Washington Redskins. Both teams have incredible rookie quarterbacks with current ESPN passing stats impressively ahead of Tom Brady, Ben Roethlisberger, and Drew Brees. Their unexpected success so early in their career is an inspiration, and they have already become huge role models among rising youth, but in a battle between Robert Griffin III and Russell Wilson, Russell will always get my vote for MVP. All things Russell amaze me. Not only does he have the ability to persistently conquer challenges and routinely dispel doubts from his critics, but on and off the field, he actively lives a life that makes him a player with a tremendous heart. These qualities are awe-inspiring, and for him, they seem to come naturally, and we were lucky to get to know him as a young athlete at NCSU.
A lot of things happen in the locker room. Its a place where men celebrate victories, lick their wounds, visualize their next game and make new promises to themselves. It’s a place of camaraderie where boys build each other up to become men. In these walls are the sounds of pep talks, prayers before and after a game, strategies on how to win, the boisterous howls of team spirit and determination when the coach delivers his pre game speech. I just know that whatever happens in this ultimate mans cave stays in the confine of those walls. Afterwards, once the game is over and the crowd has dispersed, the room gets quieter. During away games, it’s a scramble to get cleaned up, get back to the team plane, and get back home. And it was in this type of moment, in the hush of a locker room after all players and coaches had gone, that my husband had a real struggle with Parkinson’s. He was unable to button his shirt.
So, there stood 2 men. One was Don – a 50 something year old man responsible for teaching his players to protect the quarterback. The other was Russell Wilson, the 20-something-year-old quarterback that my husband was supposed to protect. I’m sure Russell was one of the last guys because he had just completed post game interviews. In the boundaries of this locker room, is where common decency and humanity happened. Unfortunately limited mobility is one of the side effects of Parkinson’s and Don had expended all his energy on the field. Unaware of Don’s disease, Russell, a player with tremendous heart saw his struggle and helped. He just walked over and helped Don get dressed. Without speaking a word, a tremendous human being didn’t pass judgement, didn’t ask questions and more importantly didn’t walk out of the room without making sure all was good.
Russell, Girls and Friend Just Outside The Locker Room
When Don got home that night, he shared what had happened in the locker room. He was embarrassed. Yes, for the fact that he needed help, but more so for the fact that he was losing the ability to do the things that he took for granted. That was early on in his disease where he, and truth be told we, had difficulty accepting some of the challenges that were ahead of us. This was our wake-up call. As he shared his concerns about getting into a situation like this again, inspiration hit, and I thought I could help him. I’m not sure if Don ever thanked Russell, or if in a man’s world, that’s just something not spoken about. However, I do remember personally giving Russell a letter of thanks from me. In a football environment where struggles aren’t an everyday occurrence, Russell showed grace and humility. The thank you was truly heartfelt because it’s difficult to express gratitude for something so personal.
our guest speaker… the bully?
In the off season of that year, Russell came to the rescue again. I asked if he could come to my daughter’s school and speak to the students about bullying because I knew he would impart his wisdom, grace and first hand experience. Without hesitation, he agreed to help out. Obviously, the kids were enamored by his presence, but surprisingly it was what he shared that left the impression. Russell admitted that he himself was a bully! He talked about growing up and how he would target kids on the playground in attempt to acquire friends. He then conveyed his turning point and how he now chooses to live his life. The kids couldn’t get enough of him. He was there to give a 30 minute lecture, but ended up staying and interacting with the kids for over an hour fielding questions on everything from his relationships with girls (he wasn’t married at the time), to God, to the music on his iPod and to the challenges of being a student athlete. He was personable and kind and gave each of those 440 kids a once-in-a-lifetime experience. Russell didn’t need to spend his down time doing this but somewhere I felt he was happy to have the platform. Again, just a man living the life he speaks about.
My eldest daughter recently asked me in all seriousness, “How did Russell get a bowl named after him already?” She just assumed that the Russell Athletic Bowl was named after him and not an apparel company. When we watch Russell play, we see more than just a great athlete, or a stat with a story. We see a remarkable human being that we know will have many things named after him one day.