Jim Craig was the goalie for the 1980 Olympic hockey team that beat Russia and won the gold medal. I met Jim at a meeting to raise awareness for screening for the silent but potentially deadly disease of abdominal aortic aneurysms (AAA). This is a disease that I treat as a Vascular Surgeon in Rockford, Illinois and a disease that sadly took the life of Jim's father. Jim was the guest speaker and did an awesome job of motivating primary care physicians to do screening ultrasounds on their patients to look for AAAs. It was a very successful meeting with a very good turn out and I truly believe that future lives will be saved because of that effort. During the dinner portion of the meeting, my wife and I got the pleasure of sitting next to Jim. By the end of the dinner conversation, we had shared pictures of our families and felt like we had become good friends! One of the pictures he was flipping through on his phone was a young adult standing upright in a specialized motorized wheelchair. Jim explained that earlier that day he had been at a meeting to help get these devices approved by medical insurance. As a father of a son who is Autistic and has some severe learning disabilities, I was touched by his heart for that cause. I told Jim about my son Nils and that I was president of a board for adults with special needs called Barbara Olson Center of Hope. I asked Jim if he would ever consider coming back to Rockford to be a guest speaker for the Center. Of course, he said yes. That day came a few months ago. We packed a convention center and energized a very hockey savvy crowd with Jim’s life story. Jim generously donated signed Olympic jerseys and personalized signed pictures which netted the center over $12,000! It was one of the best highlights of the Center’s 70 years in existence!
If these gifts of Jim’s time and effort to causes near to my heart were not enough, there was more to come.
Jim found out that I was running the 2017 Boston Marathon for the Doug Flutie Jr. Foundation for Autism and generously offered to assist with my fundraising in any way. I think that it is more than a coincidence that not only are Doug and Jim both sports legends from Boston but that they know each other, had the same sports agent at one time, and that Jim’s daughter is pursuing a career as an Autism Behavior therapist! When I told Jim that the jersey he donated raised $2,500, he offered more jerseys! I informed friends and family for Giving Tuesday that if they donated $1,000 they would get one of Jim’s Olympic jerseys with a personalized signature. I was hoping for 1 or 2 takers, I got SEVEN!!! Not only did that put me over the top for my fundraising minimum but it put me in the lead to this day! I am blessed to have such family and friends for their generous donations…and Jim was the most generous of all!
I am looking forward to running the Boston Marathon this April 17th, which is always run on Patriots Day. I think it is fitting that I fulfill a personal goal while raising money for such a worthy cause. I also think that it is fitting that it occurs on Patriots Day. You see, Patriots Day is a holiday dedicated to the men and women who fought the battles our country needed to win for independence. The Doug Flutie Jr. Foundation for Autism is helping families affected by autism to fight a battle for the independence of individuals with disabilities. This foundation raises millions of dollars for families affected by autism. One in 45 kids born in 2017 will have some degree of autism. There are special therapies that can make huge differences for these individuals that are often not covered by medical insurances or taught in schools. This foundation distributes over 85 cents of every dollar donated directly to families who have a member with autism. In the world of charities it rates at the top for its ability to minimize its operational costs and maximize its ability to help families affected by autism. Please check out their website www.flutiefoundation.org. My fundraising website for the Boston Marathon is https://www.crowdrise.com/flutieboston2017/fundraiser/kendallboone Please support this great cause. Please feel free to donate to one of the other runners on Dougie’s Team who may not have raised their $7,500 minimum instead of me….its all going to the same place!
Thanks again for the generosity of Jim Craig and his wonderful team mates at Gore, who sponsors his speaking engagements about AAA awareness.(Interestingly, the rep Jeff Gosse who got Jim here has a daughter in Boston who has child with autism and they have received funds from the Doug Flutie Foundation… what are the chances of that?)
Thanks to Jim’s other team at Gold Medal Strategies, including his daughter Taylor Craig and assistant Lisa Sullivan.
In my family, we often refer to things as “God Things”, when we see His hand in our lives. For me and my family, our experiences with Jim have been heaven sent.
Dr. Kendall Boone, MD Vascular Surgery
President, Barbara Olson Center of Hope