Wilson Raises Money With Mom In Mind

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This story is from much earlier this week, but couldn’t be told without the addition of photos from the event. Even the epic shot of skeptical Josh.

Most Saturdays during the NFL season, members of the Washington Redskins are required to be in their hotel rooms by 11 p.m. sharp for curfew. The notable exception comes on bye week, when the players can stay out as late as they want.

Cornerback Josh Wilson did just that.

Last Saturday was the annual Light The Night Walk at the Reston Town Center, where participants raise money and walk to benefit the Leukemia & Lymphoma Society, and Wilson was there with his family to support the cause.

It was a fitting family experience for Wilson, considering it was family that raised cancer to his attention. It all started with a family gathering in the Outer Banks a few summers ago.

“We were walking on the beach and my mom told me, ‘I cant walk anymore,'” he remembered. “She said, ‘Josh I got to sit down.’

Josh left his mom on the beach and sprinted two miles back to the beach house to get the car and take her to the hospital.

“We come to find out that she had a low blood count because leukemia cells kill your blood and don’t reproduce them,” he said. “It was a blessing that she found out because if she even got a cold we would have never found out until it was too late.”

On July 27, 2011, Josh Wilson fulfilled a lifelong dream and signed a deal with his hometown Washington Redskins.

It should’ve been a day of joy and celebration, but it was also the day his mom was diagnosed with leukemia.

For Wilson, it was crushing news, but made his decision to return home for football even easier after years on the West Coast.

“The whole first year she went through chemo,” he said. “After chemo, she had kidney failure and a stroke, and now she’s back in assisted living.

“The hardest thing for her is eating every day. Getting back to eating and walking up stairs–it’s a good deal where she is living at.”

Walking, an act that Wilson (a former track star) may take for granted, has become a luxury that he respects. And that’s why he walked last Saturday night.

Along the way, he raised $40,000, the largest sum contributed by a person or family at the event.

“It’s not about giving the most money or anything like that,” he said, not wanting to emphasize the sum. “It’s just important to me and every little bit helps.”

And that’s an attitude that Josh’s mom, his family and Redskins fans everywhere can be proud of.

Josh is one of the most active Redskins in the community, consistently attending Tuesday events with the Charitable Foundation as well as hosting his own community events with his wife, Jazmin.

Last Tuesday, Wilson shared one of the most profound perspectives I’ve ever heard out of a  professional athlete, delivered to high school football players during the ‘4th And Life’ forum:

“I’m going to be done with football at 35 and I have the rest of my life to look forward to. I’m going to run a business to give back to Prince George’s County where I grew up. It’s going to be to make sure that kids growing up in Prince George’s County have the same opportunity for early childhood education that other kids in this area have.

“I was put on this earth, not just to be a football player; I was put on this earth to make a difference in a big way. I played football because it gave me the means to do what I was put here to do. I have the opportunities, I have the relationships, I have the finances to get through and change kids’ lives.

“That’s why I’m here. I’m not here to be a football star.

“I’m got a community. I’ve got a family, I’ve got friends, I’ve got people that look up to me and I need to make a difference in those people’s lives outside of football. Just doing it on a football field isn’t going to cut it. I’ve got a plan, man.”

Now that is a bold statement. Congratulations, Josh, and keep up the good work!

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