The Foundation was started in 2010, and during the first year, in collaboration with YATS (Young Adults Taking a Stand) Against Cancer, it raised $50,000.00. The funds raised were donated to the Drew Rodrigue Memorial Fund with the Leukemia and Lymphoma Society (LLS), which LLS used to establish a research grant targeted at Advanced Hodgkin’s disease. This donation was the single largest contribution in the history of the Louisiana Chapter of LLS!
In 2011, the Foundation committed to establishing a fund that would carry on Drew’s generosity and passion for youth athletics. When Drew was coaching football at Abbeville, he would often pay out of pocket to provide equipment to his players that needed a little help. Accordingly, the Foundation created the Drew Rodrigue Memorial Equipment Fund for Abbeville High School. The Equipment Fund helps kids who can’t afford essential equipment – such as football cleats – so that the students have an opportunity to get out and play some ball.
In addition to establishing the Drew Rodrigue Memorial Equipment Fund in 2011, the Foundation also awarded $5,000 to the Patient Education Program at Mary Bird Perkins Cancer Center. This program consists of workshops and support groups for patients and their family members so they may receive information on treatment options, emotional support and healthy lifestyle choices.
In 2012, the Foundation matched its 2011 donation to the Patient Education Program at Mary Bird Perkins Cancer Center. It also funded a signature project benefiting Eric Searcy, a much deserved pillar in the community in his own right.
Eric Searcy was student athlete on the University of Louisiana at Lafayette Baseball team in 1998. On his way home from practice one evening, tragedy struck when a drunk driver hit Eric leaving him paralyzed from the mid back down. Over the course of the next few years, Eric endured numerous surgeries, complications, and therapies, but he maintained his unwavering spirit completed his college education at LSU. After graduating, Eric created his own foundation to help others who are paralyzed in unthinkable accidents.
In recognition of Eric’s selfless drive and unbreakable spirit, the Foundation outfitted Eric with a customized Action Track Wheel Chair, which increases his mobility in his day to day activities and enabled him to pursue one of his greatest passions which he was unable to participate in following his accident, hunting. To Eric’s great surprise, the Action Track Wheel Chair and a trip to a wheelchair accessible turkey hunting ranch in Texas were revealed to him at an event where Eric was speaking. A video of the big reveal can be found here.
In 2013, the Foundation teamed up with The Wellness Studio – a local mental health counseling practice – and the New Orleans Sports Foundation to put on a wellness workshop before the New Orleans Bowl. The workshop provided inspiration to over 500 high school athletes to keep striving through life adversity to reach their goals by giving the students an opportunity to interact with a panel of athletes who have faced and overcome immeasurable circumstances in their life, both on and off of the field.
In addition to putting on the workshop, the Foundation honored Dr. Matthew Matherne, who was one of the youngest individuals in the world to be diagnosed with Frontal Temporal Lobe Dementia. Including Dr. Matherne, there have been only 10 documented cases of FRD in patients under 30. The Foundation honored him with a signature portrait by famed local artist, Frenchy. The portrait captured Dr. Matherne and his wife, Amy, as he advanced to late stage FRD. Although Dr. Matherne has since passed, his wife continues his legacy by advocating and fundraising for further research with the Mayo Clinic. She chronicled her experience of caring for her husband at http://mattmatherne.blogspot.com.
2014 was a deeply personal and sobering year for the Foundation, as one of our dearest friends, Chef Carl Schaubhut, was diagnosed with gastrointestinal cancer. To aid Carl in his battle with cancer, the Foundation placed our annual event on hold, and banded together with the New Orleans restaurant community to hold Kicking Cancer in the Gut, which raised $50,000.00. All of the proceeds from that event were donated to Carl to help his family and to cover his medical expenses.
In 2015, the Drew Rodrigue Foundation embarked on its latest charitable endeavor. The Foundation partnered with The Bella Bowman Foundation and Our Lady of the Lake Children’s Hospital to create the inpatient and outpatient playrooms for children 21 years old and younger that are being treated for cancer at the soon to be opened state of the art, medically advanced treatment center. The hospital is a St. Jude Affiliate Cancer Center and will service children all across Louisiana. The Foundation committed to raising $100,000.00 over a five year period, and the hospital is currently slated to open in the spring of 2018.