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The Daily Wildcat

The Daily Wildcat

 

    Frye family tees off for MS

    Frye family tees off for MS

    PHOENIX – About two months ago, Tom and Karen Frye got a phone call from Tom’s 50-year-old cousin. She said it was time for a lift.

    Tom and Karen knew exactly what kind of lift was needed: one to help her get up the stairs.

    This is what multiple sclerosis can do to a person.

    Karen’s sister, Gene, was diagnosed with MS when she was 27 – just four months after her wedding. She would walk down the streets of New York City and people thought she was drunk because she lacked stability.

    But now at 55, Gene and others who suffer from MS – a disease that affects the central nervous system – are getting help, thanks to science, research and big hearts.

    Enter Tom and Karen’s son, Channing Frye – a former UA hoops star, current NBA player and all-star fundraiser. The 6-foot-11 center for the Portland Trail Blazers brought his new Nike golf clubs in his Wildcats golf bag to the Raven Golf Course at South Mountain and teed off in the C. Frye Celebrity Golf Tournament on Friday. Former Wildcats and current NBA players Luke Walton, Richard Jefferson and Andre Iguodala also played in the four-person scramble style tournament.

    “”MS is something that really hits close to home for me,”” Frye said. “”To have my guys come out and help out while we do something fun – golfing – it really means a lot.””

    Frye made a deal with Jefferson and Walton that if he came out to San Diego and helped at their basketball camp for players ages 7-18 last week, they’d fight through the 7:30 a.m. shotgun start and help with the cause.

    “”Channing’s a good friend of mine and he’s done a lot of stuff for me,”” Jefferson said. “”It’s pretty much that Arizona group. We’re an Arizona family. When you can, you try to do stuff with each other.””

    After Frye and Iguodala played phone tag for a couple weeks, they finally connected days before the tournament and Iguodala agreed to come out and help as well.

    “”He just called me and let me know that he needed me to come out, so I just hopped on a plane and came out,”” Iguodala said. “”The cause speaks for itself.””

    Jefferson said out of the 10 times or so that he’s played golf, about eight events have been tied to the UA or its former players. This time Jefferson hit the links, he had the most success he’s ever had.

    “”My first shot of the day was the best shot I hit in my entire life,”” he said. “”Like 290, 300 yards, no joke. It’s a little competitive.””

    Frye’s Web site said UA head coach Lute Olson would be the honorary chair of the tournament, though he did not end up attending. But a handful of former Wildcats from various sports attended, including Bob Elliott (basketball) and Dave Sitton (rugby), who are the FSNA announcers for UA men’s basketball games.

    Sitton was very optimistic about raising funds for MS, as he is a survivor of lymphoma. He acted as the auctioneer after 18 holes of golf, taking bids for a door with a picture of Frye on it, among other items.

    About 40 percent of the profits – the total amount was unknown at the time of publication – went to the C. Frye Foundation. The rest was split among Frye’s Phoenix, Portland and New York MS chapters.

    The proceeds also helped set up a new organization that will benefit the children of those who have MS and is especially close to the Frye family.

    About six years ago, Gene’s daughter, Danielle, called Karen from New York.

    “”Karen, I have to leave,”” Danielle, then 19, told her aunt. “”I have to get a life.””

    Danielle moved down to Phoenix and found it difficult to adjust at first because she was so removed from the world after spending so much time taking care of her mother. But now at 25, Danielle is an ASU student, “”working at the Biltmore and leading a wonderful life and no longer feeling the guilt,”” Karen said.

    Two days before the golf tournament, Karen’s phone rang again. It was her parents telling her that Danielle was needed again. Gene had been hospitalized due to a high temperature or flu, which could have been life-threatening.

    Karen didn’t know whether she should be in New York with her sister or in Phoenix for the golf tournament.

    “”(Danielle) said, ‘You know, Mom would tell you, do not get on the plane, but stay,'”” Karen said. “”‘Stay and have that golf tournament and raise money to find a cure for MS.'””

    As participants in the tournament purchased mulligans – extra balls for poor shots – donated money and bid on auction items, Karen stayed in contact with her family via text messages.

    “”They say that my sister is now responsive,”” a teary-eyed Karen said of Gene.

    With the money made in the tournament, the MS chapters in Phoenix and Portland will have a program for youth called Danielle’s Corner, which will “”help young people live a life that is free from responsibilities of taking care of a parent who has MS,”” Karen said.

    “”You’ve got to get your mind off basketball every now and then,”” Frye said. “”I’m so glad I could help do something like this, raising money for such a meaningful cause.””

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