The Virtues of Leadership by #17

March 9, 2011

The FS4K team was inspired to write this post after reading about Brind’Amour’s speech on The Platinum Hockey Group’s Blog – I have also posted this exact same post on my other blog and hope to repost it on Platinum’s page. We hope you enjoy.

mikebell.mensporting.com

Rod Brind’Amour played the majority of his NHL career for two teams, the Philadelphia Flyers and the Carolina Hurricanes. He retired after the 2010 season and now works in the front office for the ‘Canes. On February 18, 2011, when his number was formally retired and a banner was hoisted in his honor at the RBC Center in Raleigh, N.C. , Brind’Amour gave compelling speech that embodies what it really means to be a leader.

In his more than seventeen minute speech (irony not lost on the length of his speech and the number on his jersey) Brind’Amour spoke of his family, his teammates, his tenure with his former team (the Flyers), his former coach (the now current coach of his former team), the fans, the community, and the year his team won the Stanley Cup (2006). In each case, he rarely spoke about himself. Instead, he made that night, the night in honor of him, about everyone else.

A true leader always looks outward and never inward. A true leader recognizes that they are part of a community, a community that relies on them as much as they do it. A true leader is able to raise the level of play of everyone around them, often without anyone realizing it is even happening.

Rod Brind’Amour is a former hockey player, a father and husband, a member of a special community and a leader on and off the ice. There are many lessons one can pull from the following speech and here are a few that resonated with me:

- Always look outward to see who you can lift up.
– Always remember that your community is as much defined by you as you are by it.
– Always remember that when you focus on your goal, instead of the distractions that enter your path, you have a better chance of reaching it.
– Always remember that our family, friends, coaches (mentors), teammates (colleagues), and the random people we meet are members of our communities and that each member plays a role in our success; and that each member of our community is our teachers and students.

Click on the image below to view Rod’s speech – it’s worth every minute.

Image Courtesy of http://thepuckdoctor.com

For additional stories on this moment please visit -

http://mikebell.mensporting.com/2011/02/19/rod-brindamour-number-retired-by-hurricanes-franchise-he-helped-build/

http://www.aolnews.com/2011/02/18/rod-brindamour-number-retired-by-hurricanes-franchise-he-helped/

To learn more about the Platinum Hockey Group click on the image below.

It’s About Community, Cus!

February 28, 2011

Every neighborhood, every town and every city has one and in most cases it’s enough just to know they exist. It’s the person that embodies and personifies the notion of community in just about everything they do. If you’re from Philadelphia, or live in the Philadelphia area, then there’s a good chance you know one of the most popular of these community ambassadors. His name is Anthony Gargano, otherwise known as “Cus.”

Me and Cus at the Market

Gargano is an accomplished author, a TV personality and host of the mid-day sports radio program on 610 WIP (AM) with co-host Glen Macnow. If you’ve never heard this show, and you don’t have to be a sports fan to enjoy it, then click here (Podcasts) and have a listen.  What you’ll hear is someone who brings you right into the heartbeat of the Greater Philadelphia region, the couch of his living room, and at times into his heart; especially when he talks about his son.  There’s an authenticity to his approach on and off the radio and since this project is about sports, kids and community I simply couldn’t resist grabbing a photo with him and writing a quick post.

In our neighborhood, (Philadelphia and Southern New Jersey) Big Cus embodies sports, community, and family. To see him and Little Cus strolling through the Italian Market in Philadelphia made perfect sense.  Giving him a shout out on our blog  does too. (By the way, a picture does not constitute an autograph. Listeners will understand)

If you’ve got someone like Gargano in your town then please share with us his/her name and what makes them the ambassador of your community.

Enjoy some pics from the Italian Market and get there when you can – great place.

The Super Bowl Kicks Off Super Partnership

February 7, 2011

The 2010 NFL season is over and as we say goodbye to our favorite gridiron heroes and await the coming of Spring, we look ahead to new beginnings and new opportunities. One opportunity that we’re really excited about is the one we’ve developed with the big hearted team out of the Big Apple who work together on the Children’s Brain Tumor Foundation.

This story begins with a man named Mark Pliner who plays in a fantasy football league with ten other guys who hail from New York, Virginia, New Jersey and other parts of the North East.  At the beginning of the season Mark nominated Children’s Brain Tumor Foundation (CBTF) as the charity he would be playing for.  Every year the CBTF  hosts The Big Apple Circus in New York to raise funds for the foundation. Mark’s friend, Eric, sits on the board of the foundation and Mark, having been connected to the group for a number of years, thought it was a great program and a great organization.

Several months later Mark was crowned champion of his league and $200 was set aside for the CBTF. At FS4K, we were happy to learn that another foundation/organization was going to receive extra money on behalf of our program. What we didn’t count on was the development of an incredible partnership between two organizations with a single goal, helping children.

Last week the FS4K team held a conference call with the CBTF Executive Director and several members of the Board.  The end result was a mutual commitment to advance each other’s missions while having fun doing it.  We are proud to announce our new partnership with the CBTF which will officially kick off on March 1, 2011 at the CBTF Texas Hold ‘em Tournament in New York City.  At this event we will present the check to the CBTF, blog from the event, and enjoy the libations that can only be offered by a bar named Stout.

We hope to see you there and stay tuned for your chance to participate in our upcoming Masters Tournament and FS4K-MLB.

Lighting the Night (& Day) for Those in Need

February 6, 2011

When FS4K was announced during the summer of 2010 one of the first people to respond was Chris, an avid sports fan and owner of Mother Goose Learning Center, a daycare and learning program in New Jersey.  He and his wife Rhonda opened their first daycare several years ago and their success is largely due to the personal connection they develop with the families with whom they work with.  When I asked Chris why he was so interested in participating with FS4K he told me the following story.

Victoria came to Mother Goose as an infant. She was the happiest and most independent child you could have ever met. When Victoria was around 2 years of age Rhonda noticed that she didn’t seem the same. She just wasn’t herself. Her attitude and appearance didn’t seem right.

After several unsuccessful trips to the pediatricians office, and after being diagnosed with the flu, Victoria’s parents took her to The Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia (CHOP).  She was admitted and was subsequently was diagnosed with Leukemia.

Victoria went through many painful chemotherapy and radiation treatments and after some time seemed to be on her way to recovery. She even participated in a Light the Night walk in New Jersey,  and was thought to be a survivor. Unfortunately the Leukemia came back and Victoria was re-admitted to Childrens hospital.

Victoria passed away on December 8, 2008 at the age of 4 years old. Victoria really enjoyed the Light the Night walk.

Since that time Chris and Rhonda have always supported the Light the Night program. Their time with Victoria has left them with a heart full of cherished memories and her story is why Chris nominated this organization this year.

He went on to win his league which will result in a $200 donation to the Light the Night Foundation.

A special thanks to Chris and Rhonda for sharing their story and for being a part of the FS4K family.

Light the Night is part of the Leukemia and Lymphoma Society – please click here for more information.

Building Hope in Appalachia – Another Champ

January 6, 2011

Building a Roof in Clay County

Jason Nothdurft participated in the Swedesboro Stogies Fantasy Football league and ended up on top. He nudged his brother out for the finals and was declared the 2010 Champion of his league.  For him it was bitter sweet because we all know how great winning can be, but beating someone in the family is a whole different ball game.  Jason also nominated the Red Bird Mission as his charity of choice and as such the $300 his league set aside will go directly to the charity.  The best part about Jason’s story isn’t the $300 but how Jason impacts change beyond the donation.

Each July, while most of us are enjoying the warmth of the summer and hopefully spending time relaxing under the sun, Jason, a 911 dispatcher from Swedesboro, N.J., embarks on a 671 mile trek to Clay County, Kentucky to spend a week of his summer working with a severely impoverished community.

Kentucky

Clay County, Kentucky is located in the foothills of the Cumberland Mountains of the Appalachian Mountain Range of southeast Kentucky. It is one of the poorest counties in the United States with a median household income of $18,925 (2000 Census). In that same year nearly 40% of the 8,556 households had children under the age of 18 living with them and in 2010 the Washington Post named Clay County one of the unhealthiest counties in the Nation.

Now in his twelfth year Jason has repaired roofs, built homes, aided in the continued repair of the K -12 school, and helps maintain a home for teachers because the school when the school needs to defray costs by providing housing. Jason and 70 others participate in the Red Bird Mission during the third week of July, piling in 15 passenger vans for seven days of fun, work, and a lifetime of memories.

“We work four out of the seven days and get a lot of stuff done. Most of the kids down there don’t have much of a chance to get out, to see the world, to make something of themselves. That’s why we do it. My brother was one of the first to go down there and I’ve been doing it pretty much all my life. It’s a program I’ve grown up with and it has made me the person I am today.”

This year Jason can smile all the way to Kentucky knowing his fantasy football team is going to help a family buy food, grab some school supplies, or purchase much needed clothing for their children.  But perhaps the best part about Jason’s contribution is that it pales in comparison to his individual effort to give back to a community that truly needs it.

For me, the most interesting part of the evening I spent with Jason was giving him his 2010 FS4K Champ shirt because he’s the type of guy that truly deserves it.  Congrats to Jason, the Red Bird Mission, and the Red Bird Team and good luck on the 2011 trip to Clay County.

“ON AIR” on Christmas

December 23, 2010

This week the FS4K community received an early Christmas gift.  We were interviewed by Scott Linn for the USA Today Fantasy Sports Weekly radio program and although it was really cool what I’m most excited about is the exposure it provides the families we’ve touched along the way, and the charitable organizations we’ll help this year.

Click the “On Air” image below to hear the interview and let me know what you think.

Happy Holidays!

Does the NFL Family Really Care?

December 12, 2010

The holiday season is here which means organizations, both charitable in nature for for-profit groups, are gearing up to help those that need it most.

This week alone I received a call from the National Multiple Sclerosis Society , watched my wife pick up two gifts for an area toy drive (I secretly wanted the toy), and will donate two or three coats for an area coat drive. It’s simply impossible not to notice the charitable momentum heading into the final weeks of 2010 and with all this charity going on I thought it would be nice to see what the NFL was doing. And not just the organization but also the players, teams and their affiliates. I wanted to know what they were doing to help those that need it most.

Image Courtesy of iStock

This morning I spent 15 minutes searching the web to see what these groups were up to and this is what I found.

New Orleans Saints & Toy’s for Tots Launch Toy’s for Touchdowns (if you’re heading to today’s game don’t forget to bring a toy – 10 other teams also signed on)

NFL PLAY 60 Partners with VolunteerMatch to help fans find local volunteering opportunities.

Several members of the Denver Broncos dress as Santa Claus and visit local charities

Buffalo Bills’ players sing The Twelve Days of Christmas (particularly funny are days 5, 9, and 11)

Terrell Owens helping 81 Local Families This Holiday Season

Carolina Panthers Held Successful Holiday Food Drive

I’m sure if I had more time I could find plenty of examples but I do have a playoff game to get ready for. However, It didn’t take long to find a few examples of how the NFL is giving back to communities across the United States. It’s great to see that the teams we cheer for every Sunday are finding ways to cheer us on. In fact, if your team or favorite player is doing anything special this holiday season please share it here – we’d love to hear about it.

Charities Face Off in Fantasy Playoff

December 5, 2010

One of the unexpected outcomes of the inaugural year of FS4K is what it means to the owners come playoff time.  This year fantasy league owners aren’t focusing entirely on bragging rights among their brethren or perhaps a small pot of gold at the end of the rainbow.  As we enter Week 13, and as many owners face off in playoff scenarios,  they carry with them a new reason to root for their squad – the opportunity to give back to  the charitable organization they nominated on draft day.

For some leagues the playoff season kicked off on Thursday night when the Eagles and Texans squared off in Philadelphia. For these leagues, and the charities they represent, the intensity begins to build.

In a 12-man league that uses Week 13 as it’s first round of playoffs we find some awesome charities cheering for fantasy team owners including: the Cystic Fibrosis Foundation, Alex’s Lemonade Stand Foundation, the My Stuff Bags Foundation,  and Cure for Kids. One of the more interesting match ups include Team Raff (playing for the Cystic Fibrosis Foundation) and Team BR (Playing for Alex’s).  Here is how they match up -

Team Raff is fielding the likes of Brady, Benson, McCoy, Bowe, Colston, Gonzales, Carpenter and the Colts D.

Team BR takes the field with Rodgers, Forte, F. Jackson, R. Wayne, T. Owens, K. Winslow, Scobee, and the Titans D.

As of now Team Raff is up 24 points due to a solid outing from McCoy on Thursday night. We’ll track and report the progress of this choice match up throughout the day on Twitter so be sure to follow. (@FS4K)

Good luck to both teams an both organizations!

Today’s Post is sponsored by Nicolosi Catering – Thank you for your support.

The way FS4K works is simple – leagues agree to participate by having each member/ team owner nominate a charity of their choice (one that benefits children). Each member is then asked to set aside $10 until the end of the fantasy football season. At the end of the year the money is collected from each member and is presented the charity nominated by the winner of that league.

Who’s Got Your Blind Side?

November 30, 2010

Image Credit: Sga.za.net

Did anyone else notice #74 for the Balitmore Ravens leaving the field during Sunday’s game? Well I did and this is why -

After a weekend of giving thanks and consuming ridiculous amounts of good food, the family settled in to watch a movie.  Fortunately for us  The Blind Side was on cable so the decision was an easy one.

If you haven’t seen this movie then you should. It’s  a touching film about Michael Oher (pronounced ‘oar’), a young Memphis boy who spent the better part of his first 17 years in foster care. Then he met the Tuohy family, a caring and well-to-do family from the other side of town. The Tuohy family took a special interest in Michael and through their love and care changed the direction of his life, one that perhaps may have taken a very different turn.

Instead of finding ‘the streets’ Michael found his way on to the high school football team but struggled to embrace his role as left tackle where he was charged with protecting the QB’s “blind side.” If you’re not familiar with “the blind side” is here’s the quick and dirty. Since most quarterbacks are right handed, they tend to look towards their right more and away from their left thus creating what is commonly called the blind side. These quarterbacks are relying on their left tackle to protect them from pass rushers. What makes this an even more difficult position is that the defense will generally put their fastest and best pass rushed up against the left tackle, so this guy has to be extra fast and exceedingly dependable.*

In the movie Sandra Bullock, playing the part of Leigh Anne Tuohy (the mom), shows up at practice and notices her adopted son struggling on the field. After watching him for some time she takes him aside and tells him that the QB and the rest of the team are like his family, and that he needs to protect them like he would protect his own family (in the movie she references her younger son SJ who befriends Michael).

After making the connection between team and family he becomes an incredibly talented high school football player, an All American in college, and ultimately a starting tackle on the Ravens. Obviously this is the abbreviated version but after seeing the movie on Saturday night, and then seeing this guy get hurt on Sunday, I had an epiphany about the whole notion of “protecting the blind side.”

In the movie Michael protected his QB’s blind side while Leigh Anne Tuohy protected his. This story is one for the movies, literally, but one that we’re all keenly aware of.   We all know people like Michael and Leigh Anne. Chances are if you’re reading this blog then you’re one of them.

Over the past several weeks we’ve written about some of these people- the members of our community that look out for others. They keep an eye on one or more “blind sides” and make sure those that need help are safe. If they can’t help directly they contribute to organizations (teams) that can and in that way become members of one or more teams.

Typically this blog is about an individual fantasy player who has nominated an organization that helps children. This week it’s about every member of every community that is looking out for someone’s blind side – because sometimes everyone needs a left tackle in their life.


*http://www.filmsinreview.com/2009/11/21/3326/

Why You Will Love the Philadelphia Ronald McDonald House

November 22, 2010

Earlier this week we wrote about Mike who nominated the Ronald McDonald House Charities (RMHC) as his Fantasy Sports for Kids Charity. During our conversation with Mike we learned so much about the great things this organization was doing we decided to learn more about the RMHC program. To do so we sat down (virtually) with Kelly Hay’s O’Connor, Communications Manager at the Philadelphia Ronald McDonald House (PRMH), and asked her a few questions about the PRMH.

Kelly Hays O'Connor

Question: What makes your work so rewarding?

Answer: Because we’re in the house where the families are staying we see very directly the difference we are making in their  lives.  People are here because their children are in critical need and with so many other burdens [rent, travel, anxiety, care] we are able to playing a positive and immediate roll in their experience. Our house becomes a platform of support for several families at once so there’s an opportunity for them to feel comfortable and for the kids to feel safe. It’s place where the adults can find support from others and where a kid can be a kid – particularly those children who would otherwise feel uncomfortable. For example, if they have lost their hair due to treatment.

Question: What is it like to know that you’ve made a difference in the lives of children and their families?

Answer: In Philadelphia there is a social worker and a house manager at each of our two locations and they work directly with the families. However, as the communications manager my role is really different. I’m responsible for getting the word out, for driving awareness through our PR and marketing efforts and in many ways for fundraising.  I am most rewarded when I see that my efforts make a difference for the team in the house so that they can help the families who stay there.

Question: How can members of the community help the PRMH?

Answer: Our two houses are run by 17 staff and more than 300 volunteers so we rely heavily on volunteer support.  They drive our vans, cook the meals at the homes, welcome our families and really do just about everything for us.  We also accept donations (both food and monetary) to help sustain our 24 hour pantry. As you can imagine many families who stay with us keep varying schedules so some may not have access to our regularly scheduled meals. Our pantry, which is stocked entirely from donated goods, provides them with access to snacks and food whenever they need it.

Question: What are two things most people don’t know about PRMH that you would like to share?

Answer: The first would be funding. We raise 90% of our own budget which is $2.7 million annually. Only 10% of our budget comes from the national Ronald McDonald House Charities. It is probably the most common misperception.

The other is that we do more and are more than just a place to stay.  We create an experience for our families so that they have a really special place to feel safe during very challenging times. As I mentioned earlier we provide an environment where children can feel o.k. about themselves and what they are going through.

A special thanks to Kelly Hays O’Connor for taking the time to help us better understand everything the Philadelphia Ronald McDonald House has to offer.

Additional Facts about the PRMH

1. Established in 1974 it was the first Ronald McDonald House in the United States.

2. The PRMH asks residents for a $15 donation but no family is ever turned away regardless of their financial situation.

3. There are 62 families per night who stay at both Philadelphia locations.

4. Each house within the United States is different.

5. Every summer the PRMH runs a camp in the Poconos for children with cancer.

It’s easy to love this place.


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