“Everybody united in this cause; there’s nothing like it in this world,” Walker said. “That’s why I’m always excited about being able to come out and be a part of this.”
“This doesn’t get done without the man in the middle,” said Koken of the five-time All-Pro Mitchell. “But I just don’t know if people, particularly people who are of the younger generation, really understand how special this man is.”
“Thank you for having me,” said an appreciative Wilbon looking directly at Mitchell. “It’s been a few years since I’ve been able to be here. I really do appreciate the invitation.”
Each Hall of Famer had their name and a short bio about them read aloud by Wilbon. After each person stood, applause followed. Of course, personalities stuck out. Jurgensen was chewing on a cigar with a giant grin behind it. Taylor was embarrassed of a story that included him being hit in the leg by a line drive ending his baseball career. And there was Mitchell — sitting calmly in the front of the room next to Julianna.
Since it began in 1991, Mitchell’s fundraiser has been one of the most successful initiatives to raise money for cancer research for the LLS in the country. With the help of 44 of his friends, Mitchell will, for the last time as chairman, help those like Julianna.
Going out in style
According to Mitchell, this will be the last time he leads this fundraiser. After 22 years, he says he wants somebody to take the reins and run with it like he did.
“It’s going to have to be somebody who believes in the effort,” he said. “The Leukemia and Lymphoma [Society] people will keep this going though.”
After undergoing two operations on his back, Mitchell’s rehabilitation has slowed. He walks with a cane and notes that his progress isn’t going as fast as he would like.
As for who will take over next year, Mitchell hasn’t even thought about it.
“We can’t just quickly decide,” he said. “I understand why everybody wants to know now, but I want to focus on finishing this year first.”
As long as somebody like Mitchell takes over, the initiative is in good hands. As dozens in the audience gave their thoughts on the Redskins Ring of Fame member, Koken perhaps summed up best what Mitchell’s legacy entails.
“All the things this man has embodied for his entire career, of course you expect 22 years of excellence, 22 years of greatness, 22 years of giving, and giving, and giving,” Koken said. “Again, none of this gets done — without Bobby Mitchell.”