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UM's rivals rally around Chad Carr

Angelique S. Chengelis
The Detroit News

Michigan State, Ohio State and Michigan have their respective heated football rivalries, but one little boy fighting for his life has united and bonded them.

Chad Carr, the 5-year old son of Tammi and Jason Carr, a former quarterback at Michigan, and the grandson of former UM All-American Tom Curtis and of longtime Michigan head coach Lloyd Carr, is battling an inoperable brain tumor. Tammi Carr revealed in a Facebook post on Nov. 11 that Chad now is in hospice care.

Michigan State and Ohio State face each other on Saturday at Ohio Stadium in an important Big Ten East Division game, but players from both schools will pay tribute to Chad Carr by wearing specially designed decals on their helmets.

The decals feature the image of a little boy flexing his muscles and “ChadToughFDN” for the ChadTough.org foundation Tammi and Jason have created to raise money for research, and also the widely known “#ChadTough” hashtag. Tammi created the hashtag almost immediately following her son’s diagnosis to drive awareness and encourage prayers from people around the world for her son.

The Ohio State decal is scarlet and grey, while Michigan State’s is green and white.

Michigan State and Ohio State players will wear special decals on Saturday honoring Chad Carr.

Michigan interim athletic director Jim Hackett received a call from Ohio State athletic director Gene Smith informing him of the decals and the fact he and MSU athletic director Mark Hollis wanted to not only pay tribute to Chad Carr but also to Lloyd Carr.

“He made it clear to me their respect for Lloyd is what radiates in all of this,” Hackett told The Detroit News on Friday. “They have great respect for him. I called and told Lloyd, and he was touched all the way around.

“For me that’s what makes college sports so much better. It is wonderful being able to stand for that.”

This is not the first time Michigan rivals Michigan State and Ohio State have reached out to the Carr family in the last year since Chad was diagnosed with Diffuse Intrinsic Pontine Glioma (DIPG) just before his fourth birthday.

Last year after the Michigan-Michigan State football game in East Lansing, bands from both schools joined to silently form “#ChadTough” on the Spartan Stadium field. It was something Hollis wanted to do for the Carr family, Tammi has said.

Shortly after Tammi Carr posted her update last week, Michigan and Ohio State basketball coaches and staffs had the Carr home decorated for Christmas.

“They came together to do this for Chad,” Tammi posted on Facebook with a photo of the decorated home. “Amazing!!!! Bigger than the rivalry!!” 

Chad Carr has not been far from the hearts of the Michigan athletics community. Before the Wolverines football game at Indiana last Saturday, the Michigan players wrote #ChadTough on the backs of their helmets and dedicated the game to him. Michigan coach Jim Harbaugh said the Wolverines, which needed double overtime to win, drew inspiration from Chad to pull out the victory. Captains Joe Bolden and Joe Kerridge delivered the game to Chad the following day.

Last fall during the home game against Minnesota, the coaching staff wore wristbands with “Pray for a miracle #ChadTough”. Chad Carr also was an honorary captain.

This season, Chad and his family were on the field for the coin toss before the home opener against Oregon State.

Michigan basketball coach John Beilein signed autographs during a summer garage sale fundraiser for ChadTough.org with the proceeds going to the foundation.

The Michigan softball team also has been a big supporter of Chad and wear the orange rubber wristband the Carrs designed to raise money for awareness. And Michigan softball coach Carol Hutchins and Michigan women’s basketball coach Kim Barnes Arico ran in the RunTough for ChadTough run this fall that raised $120,000 for research

Chad also threw out the first pitch at a Detroit Tigers game this past summer.

Tammi Carr on Nov. 11 made her heartbreaking post, which she said she been putting off.

Here’s a portion of her post: “Jason and I made the very difficult decision yesterday to start Chad on hospice care. His breathing and swallowing have been getting worse not better, he can no longer walk and his speech is sporadic. We kept waiting to see improvement, kept waiting to see things turning around, but the reality is that they aren't. We are taking him off of steroids because they make him ravenous and we don't want him to be starving and not have the capability to eat...that is torture. The treatments we started him on in June, including the panobinostat, they did help. He was going downhill quickly in June and once we started the treatments, he really did get better ... and we've had another almost 6 months to enjoy our family. But now we believe it's time to stop fighting and to let him relax and be at peace.”