Dan Marino: Great Football Player; Great Humanitarian

During his NFL career Dan Marino set countless NFL records: most yards passing, 61,361 (John Elway’s second place total of 51,475 is almost 10,000 yards less); most pass attempts, 8,358; most completions, 4,967; most touchdown passes, 420; highest passer rating for a rookie, 96.0; highest completion percentage for a rookie, 58.45; most passing yards in a season, 5,084; most 400 yards passing games for a career; 13; most 400-yard passing games for a season, 4 in 1984 and second with 3 in 1986; most 300-yard games for a career, 63; most games with four or more touchdown passes in a season, 1984, 6, 1986, 5; and countless other records. He was chosen to be in the Pro Football Hall of Fame in his first year of eligibility in 2005. Many people, however, do not know about another great accomplishment of the retired Miami Dolphins’ quarterback: his humanitarianism, the huge amount of time he spends helping people. Unlike his well known records, his acts of kindness are often little known.

Although the Miami Dolphins never won a championship while Marino was a player, many football experts have noted the team never had a consistently strong running game during his tenure and did not have a strong defense. With his talents, had the Dolphins had those two vital components of a championship team, many experts believe they would have won one or more Super Bowls while he was the quarterback. The team was a constant contender under Marino and did play in one Super Bowl.

While Marino was the greatest passer, statistically, of all time, he is second to none as a humanitarian. Marino has been involved in numerous charities, and his Dan Marino Foundation, founded in 1992, has provided for the physical, emotional, and educational needs of local children, including those with chronic illnesses and developmental disabilities. Area businesses gave money for each touchdown he threw, as a result of the foundation, as a part of the Touchdown for Tots program.

In 2005 the foundation was involved in a variety of events to raise money to help children, including: the Tee Off for Tots, September 26; Clair Marino’s Invitational Golf Tournament, October 24; and the New York Casino Night, November 1.

The Dan Marino Foundation has distributed more than $7,000,000 to help children, as the result of public and private donations. In 1995 Dan and Claire Marino met with Doctor Robert Tuchman to determine how the Dan Marino Foundation could enhance the services presently available to families who have children with special needs. Because the Marino’s wanted to provide the best care for their son, Michael, they realized the need for a special center for children with special needs. They hope to help many children with autism, or other disabilities.

As a result of the work of the Marino’s, Doctor Tuchman, the Dan Marino Foundation, the Miami Children’s Hospital Foundation, and the Equitable Life Insurance Company, the Dan Marino Center opened on February 2, 1998.

“Autism is a lifelong developmental disability, that affects a person’s ability to communicate, understand language, and socially interact with others,” the www.danmarinofoundation.org website explains the condition of the people the organization hopes to help. “The first signs of autism generally appear as developmental delays, between the ages of 15-20 months. In many cases the child appears to be progressing normally, and then displays regression in social-communication skills.”

The Dan Marino Center in the Miami Children’s Hospital is a neurodevelopmental center that specializes in the diagnosis and treatment of children at risk for psychological and developmental problems. Pediatric medical and healthcare specialists in the areas of neurology, psychology, rehabilitative services, and educational intervention provide testing. The testing is state-of-the-art neurodiagnostic testing. There are Pediatric specialists in Cardiology, Genetics, Nephrology, Ophthalmology, Plastic Surgery, and Otolaryngology.

Some of the many services provided include: speech therapy, occupational therapy; physical therapy; and psychology and behavioral modification.

The Dan Marino Foundation library and resource room are open to the public to provide books, videos, and audio tapes about numerous neurological disorders including autism and epilepsy.

Those are only some of the ways Marino has helped people. At Thanksgiving he has always given out numerous turkeys to those in Florida who can’t afford them. While many other players have done the same thing, the difference is Marino has always taken his children along so they can learn to help others. At Christmas he has always visited hospitals to bring cheer to those who have none. After the Dolphins lost to the Colts in 2000 Marino ignored the disappointment of the loss and allowed his picture to be taken several times with someone in a wheelchair-a person with a face painted blue and white (the Colts’ colors) and a Colts’ jersey.

The Marino’s who had four of their own children also adopted a girl from China who had been abandoned on the steps of a hotel.

Marino has also met the wishes of more than 100 children through the Make-A-Wish Foundation. As a result he: brought children to attend a Dolphins’ practice before a game; gave a tour; met personally, along with other Dolphins’ players and coaches, with many of the children; provided a photograph session; gave tickets to a game; and provided the chance for children to catch a pass from him before a game.

One pass Marino threw will never be forgotten by one Florida family. The incident was reported in a Florida newspaper, the Sun Sentinel. Marino threw a pass to nine-year-old Brian Clifford, who ran from the bleachers at the Dolphins’ training camp to catch the spiral. Brian was suffering from a rare liver disease when he caught the pass. The Clifford’s were from Fallon, Nevada.

“It was amazing how much time and patience he had with the children,” said Dan Clifford, father of the boy. “He took time to talk with Brian and his brother and to throw passes to both of them. It’s something we will never forget.”

In addition, Marino has granted the children of other sick children, including those with leukemia.

During the 25th year the United Way was affiliated with the NFL, in 1998, Marino and two other players did public service announcements for the charity.

In 1998 Marino was named NFL Man of the Year, because of his work with charity.

Dan Marino may never be forgotten for his football accomplishments. While his humanitarian efforts may not be as widely known, a lot of people will also never forget him for his kindness.

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