Shawn Burr Endorses Run4Papa

Former Detroit Red Wing left-winger Shawn Burr agreed to go on camera to help raise awareness for PPA research:

Burr joins the fight!

After a very fun and adventurous night out with my buddy Dan in Tampa, I awoke fairly early on Saturday morning.  Instead of sleeping in, I decided to head up to the pool area around 9AM.  I figured why not go for a swim before starting my day.  When I got up to the pool deck, I changed course and headed over to the jacuzzi.  Even my 32-year old bones need relaxing every now and then…

As I quickly sat in the mildly warm jacuzzi (keep in mind it’s Tampa and it’s plenty humid int he summertime), there was a man who looked eerily familiar in the hot tub.  We started chatting a little bit only to find out that we both lived in the state of Michigan for quite some time. I introduced myself and he replied “Shawn Burr, nice to meet you!”

Like the Bill Rodgers experience, I felt a little embarrassed I didn’t recognize him at first considering my passion for all-things Detroit but he brushed that off pretty quickly and we continued chatting for the next half hour.

While Shawn still resides in Michigan, he was visiting Tampa to see his daughter compete in a volleyball tournament for Eckerd College. You could see the pride in his eyes as he spoke of her.

After laughing about stories of Michigan v. Ohio State, rivalries in the hockey world and likely some other stories that are best left on that pool deck, he briefly transitioned to an appreciation for life.

Shawn informed me that 8 months ago he had been diagnosed with acute myeloid leukemia and had undergone 4 rounds of chemotherapy treatment.

“The day before my wife and I went to the hospital she bought pomegranate seeds from Costco.  In the morning, my tongue had red spots on them and I figured it was a reaction from the seeds. After getting some blood tested my doctor said ‘We need to check something.’ I knew I was in trouble.”

My heart broke.  He went on to describe the past 8 months but was filled with a sense of optimism. What struck me most about this conversation wasn’t the fact that here was a 16-year veteran of the NHL who on the outside seemed to be healthy, happy and full of life, but rather someone who was frustrated with the lack of financial support to fund research for Leukemia.

“I was on meds that were helping and then all of the sudden the pharmaceutical company doesn’t receive enough funding and the meds are no longer available.”

I understood.  I more than understood. I explained my cause to raise awareness for PPA research and how my grandfather and so many others were struggling with the disease. And like many other fatal diseases, the importance of research and funding is essential for progress.

He was inspired by my Run4Papa campaign and generously offered his support for the cause. As if we were friends since he got drafted in ’84 he said, “Email me when you get back to Charlotte and I will pass around your story throughout my office and garner support for your Papa.”

Shawn Burr, the left-winger I had grown up watching and rooting for in Detroit all those years was now backing the fight for PPA and my Papa.

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