Monday, May 21, 2012

Lions QB Matthew Stafford bids $15K on MNF prize, donates it to patient

Ann Arbor— Detroit Lions quarterback Matt Stafford made the winning bid of $15,000 on a Lions-Bears Monday night football package that he actually donated to send a University of Michigan C.S. Mott Children's Hospital patient and her family to the game in late October.

Stafford and his girlfriend, Kelly Hall, sat with Faith Falzone, who is having surgery this week, and her brother, Will, during the Griese-Hutchinson-Woodson fundraiser gala Saturday night.

Stafford was so moved by their family's story, he got into a bidding war on his own auction gift, including six tickets - two provided by ESPN broadcaster and Ann Arbor resident Mike Tirico.

The game is Oct. 22 at Soldier Field.

"They have been through so much in the past couple years, and to see how much they all supported each other and faith through their tough times was really inspiring," Stafford said in a text message.

"I wanted to give them something they could really be excited about and something I know they deserved."

Former Michigan players Brian Griese, Steve Hutchinson and Charles Woodson back the annual weekend event that included a dinner Saturday night and golf outing featuring a number of former Michigan players Sunday at U-M golf course.

The event raised $1.35 million for the hospital this year and has raised just more than $5.5 million over six years.

Hutchinson said he was touched by the generosity of Stafford, a Georgia alum.

"Let's be honest, the state of Michigan hasn't gone through the greatest times with the economy and the jobs around here," Hutchinson said Sunday at the golf outing.

"To have a guy that's from Georgia get drafted by the Lions and be a very integral part of that team turning their franchise around and then to be able to come to a U-M event that he has no affiliation with and donate $15,000 and buy his own tickets that he donated and then give them to a family whose daughter is going to have surgery in the next couple days here … you couldn't write a better fictional story if you had to."

By Angelique S. Chengelis
The Detroit News

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