Carr earns foundation, announces election to College Football Hall of Fame

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Daily Sports Editor
Published May 14, 2011

“Oh my God,” Lloyd Carr said to himself.

It was that kind of night for the former Michigan football coach at a dinner gala Saturday night for the Champions for Children’s Hearts Weekend to benefit C.S. Mott Children’s Hospital.

Michigan Athletic Director Dave Brandon had just announced a $6 million donation by the Al Glick family — $3 million for outdoor renovations for Schembechler Hall and the other $3 million given to sponsor an oncology wing of the new Mott’s Hospital that would bear Carr’s name — The Coach Carr Pediatric Cancer Unit.

Moments earlier, one of the event’s co-chairs, former Michigan quarterback Brian Griese, announced that Carr would be a first-ballot selection of the College Football Hall of Fame, which won’t officially announce its latest class until Tuesday.

And another co-chair, former Michigan cornerback Charles Woodson, had yet another surprise for the coach: Carr’s former players revealed they had organized a fund named the “Lloyd Carr Mountaintop Foundation” at the hospital to help families of patients during their time of need. The fund got its name from a metaphor Carr shared with his players about a journey to the top of Mount Everest just before the 1997 National Championship season started.

As of Saturday night, the fund had $750,000 in it with donations from several notable Michigan football alumni.

A video montage played with several players commenting on Carr's influence on them as young men. Jerry Hanlon, a former Michigan assistant coach and offensive line coach under Bo Schembechler, called Carr a “gentleman.” One player said he was lucky to have known Carr. And Mike Hart attributed Carr for his own personal growth, especially with the team’s involvement with Mott Children's Hospital.

When Carr took center stage after those surprises, he was at a loss for words for a bit. The third co-chair, former Michigan guard Steve Hutchinson, checked to make sure Carr’s microphone was still on. It was, he just didn't know what to say.

"You can only imagine what an honor this is," Carr said with misty eyes.

He recalled the humble beginnings of the connection between the hospital and a football program.

“What Michigan athletics, Michigan football, can do, is spread the word,” he was told by Dr. Valerie Castle at the hospital five years ago.

At first, they sold wristbands that read “MGoBlue” and they had private visits.

“Over a period of time, what you see here tonight is what happened,” Carr said in front of the crowd of about 800 people — including about 100 former football players — gathered in Al Glick Fieldhouse.

They were there to raise money for Mott Children's Hospital, with an evening of live and silent auctions among friends of the school and program. It was sandwiched between an all-day radio marathon on WTKA on Friday and a golf tournament on Sunday, all to raise money for Mott.

“We had a bunch of people that were attracted because of the enthusiasm and excitement and the understanding of what this hospital could do,” Carr continued. “And all of you, and many, many others across this country are a part of this, to me. And you are a part of what this legacy will be.”

The new C.S. Mott Children’s hospital is scheduled to open this November, and Carr remembered thinking to himself five years ago, “That will be one of the greatest days in the history of the University of Michigan.”

He added: “All of those phenomenal doctors, and surgeons and nurses, and all of the administrators and people who make this place so special, I say thanks.”

Carr started his speech by acknowledging his family, his wife and three kids, and he ended it by recognizing two mentors — the late coach Schembechler and former coach Gary Moeller, who was in attendance — as well as the former players in attendance.

“I wish coach Schembechler could be here tonight because he would be as excited as we are,” Carr said.