- The Washington Times - Saturday, July 14, 2012

LANSDOWNE, Va. — There is no debate over whether Bobby Mitchell is one of the greatest to ever suit up for the Washington Redskins. A member of the 70 Greatest Redskins, Mitchell was a triple threat, amassing 7,954 receiving, 2,735 rushing, and 3,389 total return yards over his 11-year career.

The 1983 Hall of Fame inductee has been playing for a different team, however, for the past 22 years.

As an honorary chair member for the Leukemia and Lymphoma Society, the four-time pro bowler sponsors the Annual Bobby Mitchell/AutoTrader.com Hall of Fame Golf Classic held at the Lansdowne Resort, which runs July 13-15 this year.

“The first time I had heard of leukemia was former football player Ernie Davis of Syracuse,” Mitchell said. “The doctor said he has leukemia and I was like, ‘What’s that?’ “

While he noted that Davis’ case wasn’t the sole reason for his involvement with the cause, Mitchell has met several victims of the two diseases during his 22-year run with the event. Over that time, the Golf Classic has raised more than $7 million for cancer research.

Little Julianna inspires all

On Friday, 5-year-old Julianna from Woodbridge was the star of the fundraiser. She’s already gone through 16 months of chemotherapy, and she is looking at 16 more. You wouldn’t know it by looking at her face — her smile was beaming across the ballroom for the entirety of the introductory luncheon.

Julianna and I shot a commercial: a PSA,” Mitchell said. “Of course, when it came time for Julianna to say her lines, she just read right through it. When it came for my lines — ‘uhh.’ “

The Hall of Famers, sponsors and members of the media all laughed at Mitchell. They then applauded Julianna. Not just for the commercial, but for her continuous fight.

Her mother, Laurie Nicholson, talked about their struggle together — having to hear her daughter was diagnosed with Acute Lymphoblastic Leukemia at an age where children should be having fun playing outside, and not be in a hospital for hours on end.

“There are all kinds of different things we had to experience,” Nicholson said. “But the one thing I can tell you is that no matter what was thrown Julianna’s way, through it all, she’s always had a smile on her face and hope in her heart that everything will be OK.”

After Mitchell said his final words for the afternoon, a majority of the retired athletes in the room parted ways — but Julianna, along with her mom, stayed longer. The cancer fighter, although shy with the microphone, wasn’t shy to anyone that approached her. And as per usual, the smile never left her face.

A Hall of Fame effort

Forty-five Hall of Fame athletes will take part in the weekend’s event. Six former Redskins — Chris Hanburger, Ken Houston, Sam Huff, Sonny Jurgensen, Charley Taylor and Mitchell — will be in attendance at some point this weekend in Lansdowne.

Several other figures made appearances on Friday, including ESPN 980’s Doc Walker, Comcast Sportsnet’s Al Koken, and ESPN analyst and co-host of “Pardon the Interruption” Mike Wilbon. All three spoke of their pleasure to be part of the event and of Mitchell in particular.

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