Steve Young making sweet music with his charity
HEBER CITY — Steve Young — yes, that Steve Young — became famous for the work he did with his left arm. In fact, his left arm helped him win a Super Bowl and two NFL Most Valuable Player awards. He is a member of both the collegiate and professional football Halls of Fame.
But the southpaw quarterback, who starred at Brigham Young University and then later with the San Francisco 49ers, plays golf right-handed. That was evident Monday afternoon at the picturesque Red Ledges Golf Club, when Young hosted his Steve Young Mountain Classic charity golf tournament.
Young confessed that working on the golf course with his right arm is significantly harder than using his left on the gridiron.
"I’ve suffered through 40 years of poor tips," he deadpanned to a group of media members.
But Young and his wife, Barbara, have more serious work to do than tinkering with a golf swing. The charity tournament, part of Young’s nonprofit organization, the Forever Young Foundation, is working on a project that hit close to home.
In June 2010, Sophie Barton, then 17, died suddenly while on a hike in the mountains above the Heber Valley. A supremely talented singer/songwriter, Sophie volunteered at Primary Children’s hospital and sang songs to bed-ridden youngsters.
Sophie’s mother, Anne-Marie, grew up with Young in Connecticut and, coincidentally, worked with Red Ledges for years as an interior designer.
Then Barbara Young came up with a plan. The Forever Young Foundation would start a new initiative, appropriately called Sophie’s Place at the hospital. The area will be a special music therapy facility built in the hospital’s Forever Young Zone on the third floor and will care for young people suffering from chronic illness or sudden serious injury.
"It’s amazing how many hospitals don’t have a place for the kids to go," Young said. "They just sit in rooms. It’s a simple idea, but it’s efficacious for kids to get them out of their rooms. They just get better."
Anne-Marie Barton said her daughter proved that music therapy could help hospitalized children and the room will be living proof of that.
"I think there’d be no better way to honor her than do an event like this," she said. "I explained to each of the golfer’s as they came around what the charity is going toward. I’ve been told as many as 65 volunteers go through the Forever Young Zone a day. That tells you how much assistance and attention is given to the individual child."
Barton said rather than drawing or playing with toys, older teens will soon be able to go to recording rooms in the hospital and record music and upload those files onto YouTube.
According to Barbara Young, the project was approved by Primary Children’s Hospital to begin construction in August.
"Everything is set," Steve added, "and that’s half the battle."
For children who aren’t able to leave their hospital beds, there will be mobile units that can go to specific rooms for kids to play or record music. Young added that he is asking many of his friends who are musicians to participate in Sophie’s Place.
"Music, somehow, starts pathways, and it’s doing things for kids where there’s nothing else happening," Steve added.
In Monday’s charity tournament, the cap was raised from a planned 92 to 108 golfers, and Young said he expects roughly $250,000 to $400,000 was raised for the Forever Young Foundation.
The foundation is now in its 20th year of existence, Young said.
"It’s started very slowly, to be honest with you," he said. "It’s always grown organically. I’d say the last 13 or 14 years with Barb, that’s when we really hit our stride. She just keeps coming up with great ideas and we just keep going with them."
He added that one of the board members of the foundation served an LDS church mission in Africa and, before he knew it, Forever Young was helping to build schools overseas.
"The family spreads," he said. "Luckily we keep coming up with really neat projects. But it’s still a very lean, mean fighting machine."
Just like Young, who is now 50, and who continues to work on his golf stroke.
"Just act like you’re pitching off a pitcher’s mound," he explained. "I never thought that through."
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