Earl Campbell hosts event to benefit multiple sclerosis


Marisa Vasquez

Jay Parmelee bids on an autographed Dallas Cowboys jersey at the Flavors of Austin benefit Saturday night. The event raised awareness and money for The National Multiple Sclerosis Society and was hosted by UT football almuni Earl Campbell in honor of his son Tyler’s diagnosis.

Tracy Frydberg

Famed UT running back and Heisman trophy winner Earl Campbell hosted an event this weekend to raise awareness and funds for multiple sclerosis.

The first of what will become an annual “Flavors of Austin” event took place at the Texas Federation Women’s Club Mansion, featuring food and drinks from local restaurants, an auction and a star-studded guest list, including many former UT athletes and NBA hall-of-famers from the local community.

Debbie Pope, executive vice president of development, marketing and community development for the Lonestar Chapter of the National Multiple Sclerosis Society, said “Flavors of Austin” is part of a series of events to raise awareness about multiple sclerosis.

“This project originated 3 years ago when [Campbell’s son] Tyler reached out to us after he had been diagnosed with multiple sclerosis,” she said. “He realized that he had an important platform which he could use to raise money and support through the Pro Player Foundation which he had already been involved in, an organization that partners professional athletes with organizations to raise money for a cause.”

Multiple sclerosis is a chronic and aggressive disease which progressively attacks the nerves of the brain and spinal cord in the central nervous system. Symptoms can range from numbness in the limbs to paralysis and loss of vision. Initiatives such as Campbell’s are crucial in raising more awareness and funds for continued research to advance the treatment of the disease, Pope said.

The event is part of a greater movement called “The Campbell Project for MS,” which includes the “The Unstoppable Earl Campbell” campaign and it is part of an ongoing project which will continue for the next several years.

“[‘The Unstoppable Earl Campbell’ campaign] revolves around a lithograph created by Warner Bros. which features Mr. Campbell as a UT Longhorn with the famous ‘Looney Tunes’ characters,” said Danny Simmons, communications manger and sponsorship coordinator for the Pro Player Foundation. “Proceeds from the event benefit The National MS Society and UT.”

Drew Lieberman, undeclared freshman and sports writer for The Horn, said Campbell remains an influential and positive figure at UT.

“Earl Campbell is very important to the University of Texas,” Lieberman said. “He was the first Heisman trophy winner in 1977, he picked Texas over OU and there is a statue of him in the stadium.”

Because of Campbell’s great contribution to UT, Lieberman said students ought to care and get involved with Campbell’s organization.

“Earl Campbell gave everything he had and sacrificed a lot for the football team and our university,” he said. “UT students have an obligation to stay informed with what is happening to Campbell’s son and give back in any way possble.”

Pope said there are many ways for students to get involved with raising awareness about multiple sclerosis.

“We love to have UT students volunteering at our events and spreading awareness about the disease,” she said. “You can get in touch with us and we can match you up with what you are interested in and get you started.”