Blue and Gold Illustrated

August 2022

Blue & Gold Illustrated: America's Foremost Authority on Notre Dame Football

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BLUEGOLDONLINE.COM AUGUST 2022 39 his junior. Tommy wasn't quite old enough to understand what Chad was going through in the way CJ did. But now he's entering his freshman year of high school, and he's slated to be CJ's backup at Saline. They got through the tough times together. "They are best friends now," Tammi said. "It is the most heartwarming thing to see because that is special to us. I think their relationship changed. I think they are very grateful to have each other. CJ is a great big brother to Tommy. He's there for everything." "Ball" was the first word other than "momma" and "dada" out of both CJ and Tommy's mouths. For Chad, it was "dog- gie." In the same way CJ and Tommy love sports, Chad loved to explore. He was fond of critters, creatures and the outdoors. CJ admired his brother's curiosity. Some of his most cherished memories with Chad were when they'd set off into the forest to search for the unknown. "It set him apart," CJ said. What sets CJ apart is his indepen- dence and his confidence in making a choice about his future many in his hometown have questioned and tried to make sense of. It makes perfect sense to CJ. Chad helped bring forth such clarity. "I'm going to the best university in the country," CJ said. "There's no wa- vering like, 'Did I make the right deci- sion?' I know I did." HE'S ALWAYS THERE Tammi hasn't wavered, either. She learned Neil Armstrong, the for- mer United States astronaut who was the first man to walk on the moon, had a daughter, Karen, who died of DIPG less than three months before her third birthday. She dove into DIPG statistics while Chad was still fighting. Tammi learned DIPG specifically ac- counts for 10-15 percent of all brain tu- mors in children. It's the leading cause of death from pediatric brain cancer. The tumor interferes with a child's abil- ity to move, communicate, eat, drink, etc. As it grows, a child experiences vi- sion problems and weakness in the face and limbs. Normal activities become impossible. The body shuts down on itself until the heart stops beating. To this day, there is no cure. DIPG isn't genetic. It isn't brought on by external factors. Recent research suggests DIPG tumor formation may coincide with brain development. Adults are not commonly susceptible to DIPG, for instance. But more research is required to exactly pinpoint what causes DIPG while the brain is in its formative stages and if there is a way to combat it once it has already appeared. Tammi and Ja- son have dedicated their lives to that research. The ChadTough Defeat DIPG Foun- dation has become the Carrs' calling card. It started with Tammi just wanting to do something — anything — to contribute to a cause that clearly needed some atten- tion. It has grown into a foundation that has funded $20 million to more than 48 researchers at 31 worldwide institutions. It's the largest contributor to DIPG research funds in the world. "We can put a man on the moon but we hadn't done anything about DIPG," Tammi said. "We were just accepting that these deaths were happening. It was just accepted. "My husband and I decided that if more people had done something 30 years ago, maybe Chad would be here today. Although we knew it wasn't go- ing to save him, we wanted Chad to be a part of what would one day cure kids 30 years from now." Tammi called Chad's bout with DIPG "God's plan." She said Chad's situation served as an eye-opener of sorts to the perilous disease. The ChadTough foundation has partnered with more than 30 families across the country. Tammi was on her way back to Saline from Chicago when she agreed to speak with Blue & Gold Illustrated. She said the time she would spend with Chad today is the time she now devotes to the foundation. Anyone who's a mother realizes just how much time that is. "Chad had a job to do," she said. "I hate that it was his job, but he inspired a lot of people. He inspired a movement. We're just continuing his work. That's the way we look at it." He certainly inspired CJ. CJ hated going to ChadTough events before that fateful day in November almost seven years a go, m os t ly b e - cause Chad wasn't even there. He was back at the hospital. In a bed, unable to be a normal kid. But now CJ realizes why he was there. It was the beginning of something special — something that could one day change the world. "Looking at the big picture now, it's shown us how big of an impact my par- ents have made in the cancer field," CJ said. "The millions of dollars they've raised will help the kids who will survive this in the next 10 years who are fighting battles right now. It makes you appreci- ate what they've done." CJ got his tattoo on May 26, his 17th birthday. His mom got one, too. It also spells out Chad, in Chad's handwriting, with an orange heart floating over the "d." That was Chad's favorite color. It wasn't maize. It wasn't blue. It was orange. It's colored all over the Carr home, just as Chad will be all over with CJ everywhere he goes. "He's always there with me whether I'm playing football or playing video games or doing anything," CJ said. "He's always there watching over me and my family." ✦ Film Analysis "When you watch CJ Carr on film, he does everything right. He's got good size, the arm strength to throw the deep ball with authority and the athletic ability and movement skills to avoid the sack. Throwing the ball on the run, he's excellent. "He's been trained since day one to be a quarterback, and it's shown. He's sort of like 2024's version of Arch Manning. I've spent a lot of time with Arch. Arch is a little bit taller, but they have a similar skill set. "You can tell he's an ultimate competitor. He knew what to do on every drill, and he's competing each drill against himself and the other guys. He's a natural born leader. He does a good job creat- ing camaraderie with the group, even if he doesn't know the guys." — Prep Football Report recruiting analyst Tom Lemming "I'm going to the best university in the country. There's no wavering like, 'Did I make the right decision?' I know I did." CARR ON NOTRE DAME For more information on the ChadTough Defeat DIPG Foundation and how you can help, please go to

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