SOUTH LYON — When Lloyd Carr was the head coach of Michigan’s football program, he had a message for his players as they battle adversity:
“You can’t do everything, but you can do something.”
Carr and his family have adopted the same mindset after a tragic death in the family in 2015. Carr’s son, Jason Carr, and his wife, Tammi Carr, lost their son, Chad Carr, at the age of 5 to a cancerous brain tumor called diffuse intrinsic pontine glioma (DIPG).
DIPG has a 0% survival rate, but thanks to fundraising efforts from the ChadTough Defeat DIPG Foundation and others who like it, doctors now say they will find a cure within our lifetimes, according to Tammi. Each year, approximately 200-400 children in the US are diagnosed with DIPG.
In January, the ChadTough Foundation united with the Michael Mosier Defeat DIPG Foundation to form one organization. Together, they have raised $16 million for childhood cancer over the past four years.
Their first major fundraising event since the merger took place on Monday: the Coach Carr Classic at South Lyon’s Walnut Creek Country Club.
The golf scramble sold out months ago, Tammi said, and there were about 200 participants. All proceeds go to childhood cancer research.
“Out of that came a decision to do something,” Lloyd said of Chad’s DIPG diagnosis. “I also had a quote for my players that I gave to my teams. It says three things in it: ‘Blame nobody, don’t expect anything, do something.’
“I think Tammi and Jason dropped everything to try and save him. And from that a resolution was born. What they have done gives hope to all of us dealing with this disease. I think there is hope now, there is a belief that we are going to find a cure.”
Monday’s field was made up of sponsors, alumni and former players, including two-time All-American Jake Long, one of the two keynote speakers along with author and journalist Mitch Albom. Michigan State basketball coach Tom Izzo was also in attendance.
Tammi asked Long to be a keynote speaker a few months ago, which immediately yielded a ‘yes’ to the 2008 No. 1 overall pick.
“I jumped at the chance,” Long said. “That’s what Michigan is all about. We are a family. We’ll be back to help each other. Every time I can come back to help and be a part of this event and help, I love being a part of it.
In 2017, the ChadTough Foundation held its first annual gala on the University of Michigan campus, an event that draws hundreds of members from Michigan’s athletic community each year and raises seven figures for cancer research.
But due to the COVID-19 pandemic, Monday was the foundation’s first major in-person event since the 2019 gala.
Especially with the presence of other families affected by DIPG, Tammy said the generosity was inspiring. In addition to a silent auction of items such as autographed game-worn jerseys, other experiences, such as tailgating with former players on match day, auctioned live for more than $2,000.
“It’s unbelievable,” Tammi said. “When we started this, it was not our intention for this big monster of a foundation. But it was what had to be done. And people are good and really want to be a part of it. It was incredible to watch, and this event shows amazing people coming together and raising a lot of money.
Meanwhile, Chad Carr’s legacy lives on.
“If you lose a child, nothing can ever make up for that,” Tammi said. “We’d all give it up in a millisecond for him, but knowing he has such an impact on this world helps you get through it.”