Jim Craig was the goalie for the 1980 Olympic hockey team that beat Russia and won the gold medal. I met Jim at a meeting to raise awareness for screening for the silent but potentially deadly disease of abdominal aortic aneurysms (AAA). This is a disease that I treat as a Vascular Surgeon in Rockford, Illinois and a disease that sadly took the life of Jim’s father. Jim was the guest speaker and did an awesome job of motivating primary care physicians to do screening ultrasounds on their patients to look for AAAs. It was a very successful meeting with a very good turn out and I truly believe that future lives will be saved because of that effort. During the dinner portion of the meeting, my wife and I got the pleasure of sitting next to Jim. By the end of the dinner conversation, we had shared pictures of our families and felt like we had become good friends! One of the pictures he was flipping through on his phone was a young adult standing upright in a specialized motorized wheelchair. Jim explained that earlier that day he had been at a meeting to help get these devices approved by medical insurance. As a father of a son who is Autistic and has some severe learning disabilities, I was touched by his heart for that cause. I told Jim about my son Nils and that I was president of a board for adults with special needs called Barbara Olson Center of Hope. I asked Jim if he would ever consider coming back to Rockford to be a guest speaker for the Center. Of course, he said yes. That day came a few months ago. We packed a convention center and energized a very hockey savvy crowd with Jim’s life story. Jim generously donated signed Olympic jerseys and personalized signed pictures which netted the center over $12,000! It was one of the best highlights of the Center’s 70 years in existence!
If these gifts of Jim’s time and effort to causes near to my heart were not enough, there was more to come.