Past, Present Wildcats Come Together for Cause
July 13, 2015
By Kelly McHugh, writer for K-State Sports Extra
Eric Wolford, former Wildcat football center (1989-93) and current San Francisco 49ers assistant offensive line coach has a vision for the No Stone Unturned Foundation, and he's not slowing down until that vision comes to life.
A nonprofit organization dedicated to the support and research of children with health initiatives, mental health concerns and disabilities, the foundation was established by Wolford and his wife, Dr. Melinda Wolford, using the inspiration of their son, Stone, who was diagnosed with Cardio-Facio-Cutaneous Syndrome (CFC Syndrome) when he was two-years-old.
Using their own challenging experience through Stone's early years as motivation to begin the foundation, No Stone Unturned was created by the Wolfords with three goals in mind. According to the foundation's website it was created to "provide support for individuals, their families and others touched by debilitating disorders, to raise awareness by providing information and training the public, the medical community and school systems and to support current and aggressive research that will enhance the lives of children with genetic and neurological differences, developmental delays and mental health concerns."
Since its beginning, K-State football coaches and players, past and present, have played a key role in helping the No Stone Unturned Foundation grow, and, just like they have done for the past eight years, Wildcat legends from around the nation recently came together to reunite and support the cause.
"There is a lot of excitement in the air," said Wolford with a smile on his face on Friday evening at the K-State Alumni Center, the venue for the evening's event. "About eight years ago, a group of us got together and said, 'We don't really get to see each other often, so let's get together during the summer, have a golf event and give the money back to a charity.'
"The first year we gave money back to the Boys and Girls Club," he continued, "and from there things just continued to grow. Then, my wife and the committee here in town started the No Stone Unturned Foundation, and now here we are."
Every summer, K-State football players gather for this Wildcats for Charity Weekend. The weekend kicks off with a gathering and dinner on Friday evening and continues through Saturday with a golf tournament at Colbert Hills Golf Course. In 2009, the Friday evening event was small and was held at Kites Bar and Grill. However, over the years, as the group has continued to grow it has continued to fill larger and larger venues.
"A good problem to have," laughed Wolford who explained this year's event was the biggest yet.
Like the yearly event has continued to grow, so has No Stone Unturned. The foundation's current 4,000 square foot facility is home to 30 therapists who provide care to families in Manhattan and the surrounding area.
Located in Manhattan, Wolford said the No Stone Unturned Therapeutic Learning Center currently services 500 families providing 1,500 appointments a month to their children in need; however, that isn't enough. No Stone Unturned has quickly outgrown its current location and has a vision for something bigger, something where more children will have the opportunity to receive the high quality services they need.
"We're trying to find space for a (bigger) building here in Manhattan, but we can't find a space because everything is bought up," said Wolford. "So now we're talking about having to build a building. We've got 130 kids on a waiting list. We can't have that. We have to find somewhere for these kids.
"It doesn't matter whether or not you have insurance, we're taking care of young people. We're helping these parents because, instead of having to drive to Kansas City, they can get world-class therapy right here in Manhattan, and why shouldn't you? It's the best city in the Midwest."
At Friday evening's event, numerous former K-State football players filled the K-State Alumni Center banquet hall. From former quarterback Steve Grogan (1972-75) to former tight end Shad Meier (1997-00) to former wide receiver Tyler Lockett (2011-14), numerous Wildcat legends showed up to support the cause.
"This is my first time being at this event, but from the second I walked in you can see the brotherhood, you can see the love, you can see everything that K-State is about," said former Wildcat quarterback, Michael Bishop (1997-98). "I don't know if you can get that anywhere else. To come in and see guys who played before you, guys whose names you know and recognize, and to see the guys that were out there on the field with me, it's been great. It's great thing to come back and to be in a room full of great people for a great cause."
Like Bishop, it was also former Wildcat center B.J. Finney's first time at the event. A member of the most recent Wildcat football graduating class, Finney and former teammates Lockett and defensive end Ryan Mueller were back in town on break before starting up preseason camps with their NFL squads (Lockett with the Seattle Seahawks, Mueller with the San Diego Chargers and Finney with the Pittsburgh Steelers).
"It was really nice to get to know (Eric Wolford) a little tonight and to learn what the foundation is about and everything they're trying to do for this community," said Finney who had spent time before the event chatting with Wolford. "It's a great thing that they're doing, and I'm humbled that they asked me to come back and be a part of it. I'm just excited to see what we can do now for the community."
From the Friday night dinner and auction to the golf tournament on Saturday, this year marked the best turnout for the Wildcats for Charity Weekend.
"This tonight is family," said Wildcat head coach Bill Snyder during the event. "There are so many of you out there who have invested so very, very much to make this possible, you've made a lot of things happen. No Stone Unturned, it's a special program to help the youth of our community. You've heard me say so many times that Kansas State University is about people that genuinely care about people, and all of you here tonight are people who genuinely care about people."
People caring about people. It's as simple as that.
Wolford and everyone involved in No Stone Unturned have a vision to continue growing and helping children, and with the help of the K-State football family, they are one step closer to seeing that vision come to life.
"That's what this is about. At the end of the day, this is about helping people who don't have insurance or who don't have the ability to drive heir son or daughter all the way to Kansas City," said Wolford. "They can get the resources to help, the therapy they need right here in Manhattan, Kansas. This is a way for us former players to give back to a community that has always been great to us."
For more information on the No Stone Unturned Foundation, you can check out its website by visiting:
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