Michigan football: Wolverines dying hair orange in Outback Bowl to support pediatric cancer research
The maize and blue are going orange for the New Year.
When the University of Michigan football team takes the field for the Outback Bowl on Jan. 1, some of its players and at least one of its coaches will dye their hair orange as part of a fundraiser and awareness campaign in honor of Chad Carr.
Chad -- the grandson of former Michigan football coach Lloyd Carr and Michigan Hall of Fame quarterback Tom Curtis -- died in 2015 at age 5 of an aggressive form of brain cancer called Diffuse Intrinsic Pontine Glioma or DIPG. Chad's father, Jason Carr, also was a Michigan quarterback.
It's all part of an effort started by U-M defensive end Chase Winovich to help the ChadTough Foundation, whose mission is to fund pediatric brain cancer research and spread awareness of DIPG.
"The legacy that the Carr family has with Michigan and their mission with ChadTough really resonated with me," said Winovich in a post to his CrowdRise page. "It was just so heartfelt to see this young kid and the struggles he went through. It really pulled on my heartstrings. From day one, it inspired me to be a better football player and a better person.
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Tammi Carr, Chad's mother, remembers when Winovich first approached her about the idea.
She was parked outside Schembechler Hall in the ChadTough Mobile, a donated silver Dodge Journey decked out in decals.
"He said, 'Hi, Mrs. Carr. I want to do something to help you with DIPG,' " she said. They talked about a raffle to raise money for the ChadTough Foundation, or maybe a fund-raiser tied to cutting off his trademark long blond hair.
Want to help a good cause? Let's make @Chase_Winovich and @mohurstjr #GoOrange for #ChadTough!— Michigan Football (@UMichFootball) December 22, 2017
Give to this amazing effort to support #DIPG and keep raising awareness!
DONATE » https://t.co/Pl887kVKLU#GoBlue pic.twitter.com/CQCm38y2DT
The two agreed to catch up at the end of the season to come up with a way that Winovich could help the Carrs raise awareness of DIPG and collect donations for pediatric brain cancer research.
"He followed up with me as soon as the season was over and said, 'OK, let's do this,'" Tammi Carr told the Free Press.
"He initially was talking about cutting his hair. But then, he said, 'I'm not sure I'm ready to do that yet. What about dying the hair?' And we kind of went back and forth."
In the end, Winovich set a fund-raising goal of $15,000 on the online crowdfunding site CrowdRise. If that goal was met, Winovich pledged to dye his blond hair orange, Chad's favorite color, for the Outback Bowl against South Carolina.
"The money is fantastic," Tammi Carr said, "but having him with orange hair all over national television and have people ask why is going to spread more awareness about DIPG."
It took 13 hours for Winovich to meet his goal.
Then teammate Grant Newsome joined the effort, upping the ante to $38,500.
Maurice Hurst pledged to go orange if the campaign brought in $73,000.
As the donations continued to roll in, Devin Bush and Josh Metellus joined the effort, also promising to dye their hair orange if the campaign collected at least $100,000. So did Larry Prout Jr., the Marion Township teen with spina bifida who became an honorary Wolverine in 2016.
Defensive coordinator Don Brown got in on the orange crush, too, pledging to dye his distinctive gray mustache orange if the campaign topped $125,000.
It is with my great honor that I welcome our Defensive Coordinator, Coach Don Brown to the fight against DIPG! And at $125,000, he will be dyeing his legendary mustache orange! Donation link in bio! #chadtough pic.twitter.com/wn4pfS3Pjz— Chase Winovich (@Chase_Winovich) December 22, 2017
In six days, the total surpassed $132,000 with nearly 2,000 people donating.
"We're blown away," Tammi Carr said. "That's how things happen when Chad's involved. He's working hard from up in heaven. That's what we believe.
"Chase and the others are using their platform -- a powerful platform that they have -- to do something for a cause greater than themselves, which is amazing."
The ChadTough Foundation plans to donate all the money from this campaign to the Pediatric Brain Tumor Research Initiative at Michigan Medicine.
"We think it makes the most sense to be earmarking the money that the Wolverines are raising to Michigan research," Tammi Carr said.
If enough money can be raised, the Carrs hope that Michigan's Pediatric Brain Tumor Research Initiative will be named after Chad, a lasting legacy for their son.
University of Michigan Regent Ron Weiser is going to help them get there.
Weiser, an Ann Arbor businessman who founded the real estate investment firm McKinley Associates, announced Tuesday that he plans to match all donations (up to $1 million total) from Winovich's CrowdRise campaign, giving the Pediatric Brain Tumor Research Initiative an even bigger boost.
"Ron Weiser has been an unbelievable partner," Tammi Carr said. "He's already made some incredible gifts. This is one more to get people engaged. It's a great way for us to make sure that everybody's gifts are doubled and that we're making a big impact here at home, which is ultimately our goal."
Winovich's idea has also helped the Carr family get through another tough holiday season without their youngest son.
"It's been ... difficult to kind of figure out during these holidays how you recognize Chad without making things sad or without taking things away from (his brothers) CJ and Tommy," Tammi Carr said.
Winovich launched the campaign Dec. 20, and the family got to spend Christmas week watching in awe as the donations multiplied and more players and Coach Brown joined in to help.
"This has kind of happened organically without us really getting involved," Tammi Carr said. "We're going to keep it that way, and see where this this goes."
"It has been wonderful ... that this is going to honor Chad, and remember him and continue his work. I'm so proud of all of these Wolverines."
Winovich posted a video to the CrowdRise page, saying: "'I want to thank each and every one of you from the bottom of my heart for making this whole thing possible. I've heard amazing stories from families that are battling DIPG. It's very important this holiday season that they feel our love and support."
Tammi Carr wondered how the players would get the orange out of their hair after the game.
"I'm really hoping they figure out how to do this so nobody's hair gets ruined," she said. "But, uh, I'm sure they have that figured out."
If not, perhaps Wolverine fans will be shouting, "Go, Orange!" instead of "Go, Blue!"
You can join Chase Winovich and the University of Michigan football team's drive to go orange for the Outback Bowl by donating to: https://www.crowdrise.com/o/en/campaign/chaseforchad
To learn more about the ChadTough Foundation, go to www.chadtough.org. To find out more about the research and work under way at the Pediatric Brain Tumor Research Initiative at Michigan Medicine, go to http://medicine.umich.edu/dept/pediatric-brain-tumor-research-initiative
This article is written by Kristen Jordan Shamus from Detroit Free Press and was legally licensed via the Tribune Content Agency through the NewsCred publisher network. Please direct all licensing questions to firstname.lastname@example.org.