Calipari encourages UK fan with Parkinson's to never give up faith in the Cats or his fight
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Calipari encourages UK fan with Parkinson's to never give up faith in the Cats or his fight

Mrs. Tyler Thompsonalmost 7 years


image (1) image A few months ago, I received an email from Kentucky and KSR fan Michael Draper, who told me about his father, James. James is a former pastor who was diagnosed with Parkinson's Disease in 1998 and now lives in a semi-retirement home in Nashville. The Drapers are all huge Kentucky fans, and each March, compete in a highly competitive NCAA Tournament Pick'Em Pool. This past year, 28 family members participated in the Pick'Em, but, in a telling sign of the low morale in the BBN at the time, only one person picked the Cats to win it all: James. Even though UK fell short in the National Championship game, James won the pool and the trophy because he never gave up faith in the Cats: Trophy Pic In October, Michael wrote John Calipari a letter to tell him about his father, and for his dad's upcoming birthday, ask if Cal would pose for a picture wearing a bracelet to raise awareness for Parkinson's research. Michael admitted to Cal that he hasn't always put much effort into finding a cure for Parkinson's, something that started to wear on him after his father had to miss his wedding in August because of complications. Here's the letter:
Coach Calipari, Thank you for taking the time to read this letter. First, I'd like to let you know that I am a very big fan of yours. I grew up a big Kentucky fan thanks to my dad. Enclosed with this letter you will find two items. The picture is of my dad, James Draper, holding our family's prestigious NCAA Tournament Pick'em Trophy. My dad beat out 27 other players to earn the inaugural trophy and he displays it proudly at his home. The only way dad won was because he picked your Cats to win the whole thing. While my whole family is made up of Big Blue fans, my dad was the only person that had your team making it all the way, so you can see that he is a die-hard fan! The second item is a bracelet that represents the fight for a cure for Parkinson's disease. In 1998, my dad, who was a pastor at the time, was diagnosed with Parkinson's disease. Since then he has been forced to retire from ministry and has had to move into a semi-retirement home in Nashville, TN, living apart from his wife, my mother. I'll be honest, for the 16 years that he has been diagnosed, I haven't put much effort into the fight against the disease or for the raising of the awareness for a cure and I am somewhat ashamed of that. I've always been supportive but just not as much of an advocate for Parkinson's research as I should be. This year has been a little different however. In August of this year my dad had to miss my wedding because he ended up having to go to the hospital for a week due to complications. When I saw how much it pained him to miss his youngest son's wedding, I knew that I wanted to begin coming more of an advocate for the Parkinson's cause. My dad's birthday is December 13th and this year for his birthday I've decided to purchase several of these little wristbands and ship them to friends and family across the country so that they can take a picture with it on and I can send those pictures to my dad so that he knows that he is not alone in his fight against Parkinson's. I know you are an extremely busy man but I wanted to see if you might take a picture of yourself wearing the bracelet and send it back to me so that I can send it to my dad for his 62nd birthday. You can send the picture via mail, email, or through a text. Either way, we will always support the things you've done on and off of the court. Please keep the enclosed picture and the wrist band as a gift and best of luck to you and the Wildcats this season. I hope to see you in Indy come April!
Two days later, Michael received this picture of Calipari wearing the bracelet: image And a few days after that, this note: Letter To Dad II Michael sent me pictures of the letter and note and asked me to keep it a secret because he was having them framed for his dad's birthday in December. A few weeks ago, he sent me an update with pictures of his dad posing with the framed collage and letter: image (2) image (1) "I know Coach Cal catches a lot of negative pub sometimes because of what happened at UMass and Memphis and the fact that he is simply just the best in the business, so I wanted to share this with you guys," Michael wrote. Since last season, it's become clear that Calipari was hurt by the number of fans that jumped off the bandwagon when things got bad. Both James and Michael's stories are a great reminder to never give up on the things you love the most.

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