One of the fun perks of following Kansas University athletics is to watch former KU players as they pursue sports careers or other professional endeavors after they leave KU.
Last week, the smiling faces of Cole Aldrich and Xavier Henry were on the front page of the Journal-World after they were selected in the first round of the National Basketball Association draft in New York. Having watched them on the court, fans can share in some of the happiness and emotion of their success.
It’s an added treat, however, when former players actively share their love of Lawrence and KU by giving back to our community. The same front page that featured Aldrich and Henry last week also carried a photo of the Miami Heat’s Mario Chalmers posing at Lawrence Memorial Hospital, which was celebrating a $25,000 donation from the former Jayhawk. The money will be used to establish “Mario’s Closet,” a specialty shop where cancer patients can obtain free or low-cost items like wigs, hats, prosthetics or special bras.
Chalmers toured the LMH oncology center with his parents and met cancer patients. He said he wanted to give back to LMH, which had provided care for him when he was a KU player. He has chosen to support cancer care because he was touched by the mother of a close friend who died of cancer.
Chalmers will return to Lawrence in July for the second annual National Championship Classic Golf Tournament which benefits the Mario V. Chalmers Foundation. Other members of the 2008 national championship team are expected to join the festivities.
Lawrence is proud that many former KU basketball players consider this their second home. We’re glad we provide the kind of atmosphere and support that makes players want to visit and/or live here in the off-season or after they completed their athletic careers.
It’s especially gratifying when someone like Chalmers feels strongly enough about Lawrence that he wants to give something back to Lawrence and its residents. Lawrence is grateful for his support. He’s setting a great example for his fellow Jayhawks to follow.