Sometimes you are lucky enough in life to meet someone who makes you smile. Decades ago, I was lucky enough to meet a man named Pat Sullivan. A homegrown product who was one of the best high school athletes of his generation, Pat Sullivan was a multi-sport athlete at John Carroll Catholic High School in Birmingham. Today, the Auburn football legend and 1971 Heisman Trophy winner continues to fight the fight.
How good was Pat Sullivan in sports? While he chose to continue football after high school in the late 60’s, many of his good friends believe that he could have played professional baseball and professional basketball. He, of course, chose the Auburn Tigers, and soon gave our state it’s first Heisman winner. Pat Sullivan was a college head coach (TCU & Samford), a college offensive coordinator (Auburn and UAB), and one of the most respected businessmen, fathers, grandfathers, and friends in the nation.
On Monday, Pat Sullivan was honored by the Birmingham chapter of the American Cancer Society, as he was the guest of honor at the Tee It Up Fore Life golf tournament at Old Overton. Pat and his wife Jean saw their lives change in 2003 when Pat was diagnosed with throat cancer- he was given a survival rate of five years. Get this: He’s fighting on over fifteen years since being diagnosed.
His good friend Darryl Dubose faithfully carries his oxygen tank at his side as the football legend shuffles into the Old Overton clubhouse. His eyes are bright and his voice is strong- and he wants to make sure that we know how much he appreciates his wife, Darryl, his family and all of those who are behind the tournament. That’s my friend Pat Sullivan: It’s never been about him, but about others. And while he welcomes the golfers via a microphone on the practice green, his eyes well up as he again reminds us how blessed he has been.
They don’t come much better than Pat Sullivan. Let’s just remind ourselves how blessed WE are to have HIM in our lives.
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