David Greene, former Seattle Seahawk and Georgia Bulldog football player, signs an autograph for Brandon Stivala, 10, of Dacula during Tuesday night’s fundraiser at the Aurora Theatre in Lawrenceville. (Photo: Chris Roughgarden)
LAWRENCEVILLE — Tuesday night’s fundraiser at the Aurora Theatre was a no-brainer for former NFL player LaMar Campbell. His passions for football, the arts, concussion awareness and history were all rolled into one night as the theater hosted a fundraiser to help support the theater and the Concussion Institute at the Gwinnett Medical Center.
“It’s very rare that I get a chance to participate in something that encompasses the passions in my heart,” the former Detroit Lion said. “It gives us a chance to see a great performance about one of the greatest men in football and allows us to raise awareness about the seriousness of concussions.”
The play “Lombardi” is based off the book “When Pride Still Mattered — A Life of Vince Lombardi,” by David Maraniss. And in addition to supporting the Aurora Theater, the Concussion Institute was also a beneficiary of the evening.
“With the College Football Hall of Fame coming to Atlanta, this is about to be the mecca of football,” Campbell said. “So, what better place to get a jump start of the concussion issue than right in the mecca of football.”
The night began with cocktails and mingling as former professional players like Campbell, Brian Finneran, David Greene and others, showed up to support the theater and raise awareness of concussions.
“It’s great to have the community come out and throw support behind two great nonprofits,” said Aurora Theatre’s Director of
Sales and Marketing Al Stilo. “We’re getting people out to watch a great performance and shed light on concussions.”
Campbell said the concussion issue hits home to him as former colleague Dave Dorsen and former coach Andre Waters both committed suicide due to chronic traumatic encephalopathy (or CTE).
“Those were two guys I knew personally and grew to admire,” he said. “Now, they’re gone. I want to do my part and help.”
Finneran said recognizing concussion symptoms is key, especially in kids.
“It’s important that people know how to recognize concussion symptoms early,” said Finneran, a former receiver for the Atlanta Falcons. “People need to go online and educate themselves. Parents need to know what to look for when it comes to possible concussions with their kids. There are so many studies out there that show the effects of concussions.”
Finneran pointed to Saturday’s divisional-round playoff game between the Seattle Seahawks and New Orleans Saints when Seattle receiver Percy Harvin received a concussion from a hit.
“Every Sunday you see it on TV,” he said. “And it’s not just in football, it’s in other sports. But I think because of the popularity of football, the sport is going to have to be the leader in education.”
Those in attendance also were the first to see the theater’s performance of “Lombardi.” For those who couldn’t attend, the show will continue through Feb. 9. Shows will be at 2:30 p.m. on Saturdays and Sundays, and at 8 p.m. Wednesday-Saturday. Tickets are $20-30.
“We would love for the community to come out and experience the show,” Stilo said. “A lot of hard work was put into it.”