It felt like a Football Saturday last night at the Jack Roth Stadium Club in Michigan Stadium as about 250 guests dined with former Michigan football coach Lloyd Carr, former Michigan and NFL linebacker Dhani Jones and graduating Michigan defensive lineman Mike Martin, who’s expected to be a top pick in next month’s NFL draft.
At Appreciate + Reciprocate’s second annual benefit dinner, guests had the opportunity to mingle with the three guests of honor throughout dinner, as well as participate in a panel discussion and silent auction in which attendees could bid on items such as a game of 1-on-1 basketball with former Michigan basketball player CJ Lee. All proceeds from the event benefited the LSA Emergency Student Aid Fund, an effort developed by A+R to assist students struggling to fund their schooling amid financial crises at home.
Throughout the night, the speakers stressed the importance of working hard and giving back to the community.
“The importance of giving back, as I understood, is that if someone supported you, support them,” Jones said in an interview after the event.
Jones, who founded the Bow Tie Cause Foundation, said he believes in giving back to the community and those around him, which is the primary focus of A+R.
“You came into this world with the help of another and you are going to leave this world helping others as well,” Jones said.
Jones said that Carr, who coached him from 1996-1999, helped inspire him to give back to others.
“Coach Carr taught me, ‘It’s not about you. It’s about something greater than yourself’,” Jones said. “I’ve lived my life that way ever since.”
LSA junior Jack Duiven, the A+R treasurer, said the organization seeks to facilitate and spur good deeds throughout the Ann Arbor.
“Our big mission statement as Appreciate + Reciprocate is appreciating what we have been given and then trying to reciprocate that for other people out of gratitude for what we have been given,” Duiven said.
Football coach Brady Hoke was scheduled to speak, but could not attend due to his father’s death on Monday. Though he was not in attendance, Carr acknowledged Hoke’s achievements during his speech.
In an interview after the event, Carr continued to laud Hoke’s work since becoming head coach of the football team.
“Brady and his staff have done a tremendous job last fall. When you go from 115th in the country in defense to 15th, you know … you’ve done some things right,” Carr said.
Carr added: “Every coach has to instill the things that he believes deeply in, and it’s very obvious the players have responded in a significant way.”
Carr said this season has been particularly enjoyable to watch, especially with the team’s victories over Nebraska, Ohio State and Virginia Tech in the Sugar Bowl.
“I think (Hoke and his team) are generating great enthusiasm among the students,” he added.
After dinner, Jones moderated a panel with Carr and Martin where they talked about the importance of helping others, and how certain mentors had had an impact on their lives.
For Carr, the motivating figure in his life was late Michigan football coach Bo Schembechler. Martin said his influence was his mother, who was sitting in the front row.
“Really, all you have in life is the people you surround yourself with and the relationships that you have,” Martin said. “To really cherish that, that is something I learned from (my mom).”
Martin said it’s bittersweet joining Jones as a former Wolverine after completing his senior season, but noted that he is looking forward to the future, adding that he’d ideally like to play for the Pittsburgh Steelers.
“Steeler Nation Baby — but hey, it’s not my choice,” Martin said. We’ll see what happens on draft day.”