Athletes honor Alzheimer’s patient, player’s father
Published: Thursday, October 3, 2013
Updated: Thursday, October 3, 2013 02:10
Fan the Fire will be hosting its kickoff event this Saturday, teaming up with the Alzheimer’s Association in honor of football player Corey Burns’ father, an Alzheimer’s patient.
President of the Student Athlete Advisory Committee (SAAC) Jo Clair, who is in charge of planning the event, explained that student-athletes will wear purple shoelaces and t-shirts — bearing the words “In honor of the Burns family” — to support the Alzheimer’s Association while warming up on Saturday.
Students and parents are encouraged to stop by at the game to grab a free wristband and to consider making a donation to the cause.
“There’s going to be a ton of people and the event is going to be a ton of fun, while we are also supporting the student athletes and a great cause,” Clair, a senior, said.
The event will begin at 1 p.m. at Kraft Field during the football, men’s soccer and women’s soccer games in conjunction with Parents and Family Weekend, according to the Tufts Athletics website.
For each Fan the Fire event, the athletic teams try to choose a charity recipient with personal significance for team members, according to Burns. This weekend’s cause is particularly important to him.
“My dad has the disease, and he’s had it since I was 16 years old,” Burns, a sophomore, said. “It’s progressed pretty [badly] to the point where he has it severely.”
The Alzheimer’s Association is the largest non-profit organization for Alzheimer’s research and works to reduce the risk of dementia in patients by promoting brain health, Tufts Athletics said.
Burns said he hopes many people will show support for Alzheimer’s patients by attending the event.
“The big point behind it for me was I just wanted to show my dad he’s not alone in the fight,” he said. “There’s his family, Tufts football and the Tufts community standing behind him ... I think it would be really cool to see a lot of purple, especially for my dad [since] that’s one of the things he understands because my family all wears the bracelets.”
Burns explained that he and the Tufts football head coach, Jay Civetti, spearheaded the effort, after the pair agreed that they should honor Burn’s father.
University President Anthony Monaco commented that while Tufts students do not generally crowd sporting events, he is glad to see the school’s athletics recognized in connection to active citizenship.
“The Tufts community has become more aware of how our athletic teams are involved in the lives of individuals who are struggling with overwhelming health issues [and how they] can dissipate some of that burden by their very personal affiliation with our athletic teams and their members,” Monaco told the Daily in an email.
Fan the Fire, a student organization, works to do more than increase school spirit. Its goal is to raise awareness about the community service in which Tufts athletics teams and players participate.
Women’s lacrosse player Gabby Horner agreed that it was important to keep sports connected with important community issues.
“When you associate a sporting event with a cause, I think it draws more of the Tufts community to attend, because at that point its not about the sport, its about supporting something much bigger than a game,” Horner, a senior said.
With so much support, Burns is very optimistic about the outcome of both this Saturday’s football game and the fundraiser, he said.
“I can tell from yesterday’s team meeting that this weekend is going to be different than anything we’ve had in the past,” he said. “We have a really good feeling about this weekend. I think that’s something that’s made it more special considering this week was chosen for the event.”