Being a father is a sacred role. Fathers have the responsibility to provide a strong foundation from which their children will flourish and grow. This year Father’s Day will be observed on Sunday, June 16, 2013. In April, on the weekend of the NCAA Final Four Championship here in Atlanta, I was captivated by two fathers and two sons who all are athletes. Each one of them was successful in their athletic endeavors this weekend, due to a special father –son bond. Their stories are so special and unique that I want to share them.
In Louisville, KY, at the United States Quad Rugby Association (USQRA) 2013 National Championship, Joseph Jackson was playing in the tournament while his father, Todd was in the stand cheering and encouraging his son after he officiated the previous game. To eliminate any conflicts of interest, Todd chooses not to officiate his son’s game.
Back in Atlanta, Georgia, the Athletic Director of Morehouse College, Mr. Andre’ Pattillo, gracefully allowed Dwyane Wade Sr’s Foundation, Professional Pops (PROPOPS) to host an event. PROPOPS is not a National Basketball Association (NBA) organization but a non-profit organization that focuses on bringing fathers back to the forefront and keeping fathers as important figures in lives of their childrens. Mr. Wade Sr. was in Atlanta as a role model for high achievement, while his son, NBA-Miami Heat 2009 & 2012 Champion, Dwayne Wade Jr. was playing and winning back to back games in Charlotte, NC and Miami, Fl. The special similarity between these men is that one son was playing in the Quad Ruby League and one son was playing in the NBA League while their fathers were playing duel roles as athletes and professional business men.
Both sons are fortunate to have the great athletic genes of their fathers. While father Todd Jackson was an outstanding basketball player in high school and a tennis player, he entered the Air Force and later became an Equipment Development Engineer for Intel Corporation. Dwyane Wade who was an outstanding athlete himself in all sports, entered the Army and now he is the proud founder and owner of PROPOPS. Both fathers have made a significant impact in their son’s lives as well as attaining their own high achievements.
Joseph Jackson was a great runner on the track relay team and an excellent wide receiver high school football player until one unfortunate day in November 2005. He tackled a player along with other teammates during a practice for a State Semi-final game. Joseph could have chosen to wallow in his misfortunate but his determinaton and will to live ensured that this devastating spinal cord injury did not take over his life. Through intense rehabilitation, encouragement from his father and family members, he was able to carry on with his life and continues to be an athlete.
Despite a broken neck and being paralyzed from the chest down, Joseph formed The Joe Jackson Foundation, non-profit with his father Todd who is the executive director.
This organization's mission statement is to help, inform, inspire and enable children living with spinal cord injuries not to give up on life but to work through the difficulty, find your purpose and still have a rewarding life. Joseph's organization provides individual award grants, special equipment for those with the spinal cord injury and has donated Ruby Wheelchairs that make it possible for individuals to lead more productive lives.
Before he participated in the USQRA Tournament National Championship, he told me how he felt about preparing for this big tournament. He said even though his teammates and fellow competitors have limited extremeites functions, they are still world-class athletes in rehabilitation. Meaning, “we still give all we got, to become better than what we are. Some of the athletes are paralympic and some are not. However, when we take the basketball courts we still get that same excitement and winning spirit because of the love of the high speed sport with the durable wheelchair costing approximately $4,000 a piece”.
The Portland Pounders may have been the team who won the 2013 Championship, Division 1 but Joseph was proud of his Phoenix Fusion teammates who placed fourth in the competition. Naturally, right after the ball game his team was very disappointed because they lost to Minnesota by 1 point and they had put all their effort in this last game of the season. Joseph said he played well enough to say he could go away from this last game without any regrets.
The fans were into the game screaming but the happiest part was when he would glance at his father and family members in the stand. That doesn’t happen too often because he said he is usually focusing on the game. I had to ask this question.” I know your mother, JoAnn has a quieter way of showing her excitement but how does it feel to have your father there?”. “So happy because when he is not refereeing other games during the season and in the tournament, he is helping me with my skills and I love the time he takes with teaching and making my skills better. Overall, I just love having him around.” With Joseph making that statement, I couldn’t ask for any more.(What else could I ask?) Fathers are important role models in a child’s life. More men have to find their real purpose as a father so they can be that strong foundation for their children and family.
Dwyane Wade Sr. may be successful having his own Foundation http://propopsusa.com/ but he feels greater success knowing he taught his 12 children (adoptive and biological) as well as Wade Jr. how to become champions. Mr. Wade Sr. may be in his mid 50’s but he still displays his great basketball and softball skills when he participates in ball games that he includes in his well structured fun and rewarding Foundation agenda.
Mr. Wade’s Morehouse event consisted of a basketball skills camp, 3 on 3 Basketball finals, Father’s Panel and a Celebrity Basketball game. Even though these NBA fathers were not teaching their own children, it was rewarding to watch them interact with the other kids and pass on their wisdom and knowledge. I found it exciting and it made me reflect on my own father and how he has been an excellent disciplinary and caring father through my life journey. I love my father for being there for me. It makes a difference.
I have to give credit to the many NBA/NFL/Businessmen fathers who accepted Mr. Wade’s invitation and played a major role in this great weekend. It consisted of Mr. Noel Bosh (Chris), Mr. Michael Beasley Sr., (Michael); Mr. Rod Ivey (Royal); Mr. Chris Paul (Chris), Mr. Cam (Cam) Newton Sr. just to name a few.
Reggie Johnson, Former NBA Champion (1983) for the Philadelphia76ers participated strongly with his RJohnson Community Service Organization who played a major role by teaching the children and coaching the celebrity winning team.
On the last day of the event, I told Mr. Wade he should be proud of the vision he has and then I asked how he felt about the weekend. He said “Unbelievable, it all had not sunk in yet”. I commended him on having a great vision for this. That’s why he says “ProPops Foundation Inc. shares the vision and mission of true Fatherhood. By empowering fathers, we create a coalition of men and youths who are COMMITTED, ACTIVE, RESPONSIBLE, AND ENGAGED”.
Sr.Wade once said, “A real father is there to raise his children and prepare them for life as adults. Fathers should be there to give them wisdom and help them to make better choices in life."
Mr. Jackson said he is proud of his two accomplished sons. Todd Jr. the brother of Joseph is an Aerospace Engineering while Joseph is still focusing on his degree in Industrial Engineering. Todd and JoAnn say they are so proud watching them become men who are focused visionaries, respectful, and humble. Father Todd says “Todd Jr. and Joseph knows that no matter what happens in life; that they should be determined to accomplish their goals, live their dreams and help people along the way. And one thing that I tell them all the time, is that "I love them"”.
In June, Dwyane Wade Jr. hopes to be wearing his third NBA Championship ring with the Miami Heat providing they win the Eastern Conference Finals which is in action as of this printing. Joseph will be attending an “under 25” Ruby Camp at the University of Houston (June 13 - 17) to broaden and enhance his skills in Rugby to one day compete in the Olympics through his foundation and increase his motivational speaking engagements. PROPOPS will continue its success by conducting its 2nd Annual Father's Day Weekend (June 14 – 16) event in Miami, Fla. And RJohnson Community Services Inc. will be reuniting with the Power League Super Boat Racing on the beautiful Tennessee River adjacent to the University of Tennessee Campus, Knoxville TN (June 1 – 2).
The main objective of these organizations is to include the children so adults have to participate and take an “active hands on role”. When the Father is the leader of the family, the rest of the family members will want to follow and families will be reunited to stay together. Today, I challenge all Father’s to look at the “Man In The Mirror” and make that change for you and for your family but mainly your children. Remember “the children are our future, teach them well and let them led the way”. HAPPY FATHER’S DAY AND MAY GOD CONTINUE TO BLESS AND KEEP THE FATHERS IN THE FOREFRONT!!
Copyright © 2013.MAY This story written and photos by Renee Sudderth for Splash Magazines. It is not to be sold or reproduce without written permission of Renee Sudderth