ANN ARBOR, Mich. — Lloyd Carr coached in front of more than 100,000 people at Michigan Stadium during his 13 seasons at the helm of the Michigan football team.
Enduring the ribbing of coaches, former players and family members Saturday at Glick Field House wasn’t difficult for Carr. More than 1,100 people attended the ChadTough Foundation’s second annual Champions for Change gala, and laughed along with the banter of the celebrity roast that honored Carr, who coached the Wolverines from 1995-2007.
Was Carr ready to be roasted?
“Absolutely not,” Carr said, laughing, prior to the roast.
The cause was especially meaningful for Carr. He’s the grandfather of Chad Carr, the charity’s namesake. The ChadTough Foundation raises money for Diffuse Intrinsic Pontine Glioma (DIPG) research and for outreach to families of children who have been diagnosed with DIPG, an inoperable tumor in the brain stem. Chad Carr died Nov. 23, 2015, after a 15-month fight with DIPG. He was 5.
“We weren’t able to save Chad,” Lloyd Carr said. “But my vision, from where we started to where we are today, my vision is that a day is going to come when a kid is designated anywhere in this country, and they tell the family, ‘You’ve got to take him or her to Michigan. That’s where they know the most and have done the best.’ ”
Michigan coach Jim Harbaugh and former Michigan players Ron Bellamy, Charles Woodson, Jake Long, Jeff DelVerne and Braylon Edwards were among those who roasted Carr.
Bellamy brought up Harbaugh’s recruiting visit with Quinn Nordin in 2016, which included a sleepover at Nordin’s house in Rockford, Mich. Then, he brought up his in-home visit with Carr in January 1999.
“After dinner, I was tired of recruiting, and I went to my bedroom, shut the door and started playing video games,” said Bellamy, a wide receiver at Michigan from 1999 to 2002. “All of the sudden, there’s a body next to me on my bed, and Lloyd asks, ‘Where’s the other controller?’ ”
Bellamy and Carr played video games for the remainder of Carr’s visit.
“At that moment,” Bellamy said, “I knew I was going to Michigan.”
Harbaugh, however, spoke poignantly of Carr’s resolve after the death of his grandson in November 2015.
“How many crises did he lead us through as the head football coach?” Harbaugh asked. “How many lives did he change? Probably to the point where you can’t count. He’s that type of steady, great leader. Probably never more so than at Chad’s funeral. Complete devastation, everybody felt it when we went to that funeral.”
But, Harbaugh said, Carr’s eulogy delivered a message of heart, hope and humility.
“I walked out of there feeling better that there was hope,” Harbaugh said. “And that this crisis, a positive would come from it.”
Spearheaded by Lloyd Carr’s son, Jason, and his daughter-in-law, Tammi, the ChadTough Foundation has raised more than $5 million to fight DIPG in less than four years. The gala on Saturday raised an additional $1.26 million. The ChadTough Foundation and Michigan Medicine announced gifts Saturday totaling $30 million have been committed to establish the Chad Carr Pediatric Brain Tumor Center at the University of Michigan.
“The big picture is, whatever can help,” Lloyd Carr said. “We’ve got some great momentum going. We’ve got great leadership with the hospitals, and I’m excited about what happens. Whatever comes, comes.”