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The Monday Life: Improving the Lives of Sick Kids (and how you can help)

tmlEach holiday season, we like to highlight one Duke-related charity. I sought some assistance from inside the Duke athletic program and The Monday Life was suggested to me. I looked into them and thought they would be the perfect charity to highlight this year.

The Monday Life is a 501 (c)3 non-profit organization that helps hospitalized children feel better and heal faster. They do this by enhancing the environment inside children’s hospitals through art, music, lighting, color, technology, massage, expression, and fun. They are currently raising money to renovate the basketball court outside Duke Children’s Hospital. Joey McMahon, the Founder & CEO of The Monday Life, graciously agreed to an interview with us.

For those who don’t know, Joey was a manager for the Duke Basketball team from 2005 to 2009. He has used that time to build connections in the community which allowed him to start The Monday Life.  In our interview, he answers questions about his time as a team manager and questions about The Monday Life.

But before we get started, I wanted to let you know that we are hoping to raise $500 for the Monday Life before December 31st. We will match whatever you give (collectively) up to $500. So, your $10 donation could actually be worth $20.

In addition,  you will be automatically be entered into a contest to win one of two prizes we are giving away: 1) a $25 gift of your choice at our Duke Store. 2) Our photographer, Chris Summerville, has agreed to send you a poster of this Jabari Parker picture he took.

You can donate by using this link: http://my.mondaylife.org/fundraise?fcid=290802. Now onto the interview.

DR: What made you want to be a manager for the Duke Basketball team ?

JM: Two things:

1) I seriously wanted to play for Coach K.

I really did. And the fact that I couldn’t “shoot” or “play defense” didn’t sway me either. Inside my 18-year-old mind was a voice saying: Keep managing until Coach sees your secret Kobe-like skills (which were so secret I hadn’t even seen them yet). And instantly…I would become a Duke Basketball legend.

2) I wanted something bigger.

Two weeks into my freshman year, I saw a pattern of college that scared me: Go to class (sometimes). Go out. Go to the gym to run it off. That’s it.

And it was scary because you could wake up in 4 years and think “I missed a lot”. I had to be part of something bigger. Something that broke the routine. And there’s tons of ways students do this (clubs, competitions, drama, research). Basketball was mine, and Duke Basketball was the biggest basketball you could get.

DR: What was the most and least exciting thing about being a Team Manager?

JM: Most exciting: Being inside, and seeing it was bigger than basketball.

Yes, Coach drew up plays and talked defenses. But after 4 years of being in huddles, meetings, practices, games…I learned that these plays and defenses were not what it was about. It was really about becoming leaders, especially ones that serve others.

And I saw this in the side-convos that Wojo & Collins would have with guys…just about their life. Or when Coach would meet with the captains, and teach them how to lead the younger players. Or even when the entire team would visit Duke Children’s Hospital on their day off. It was so much bigger than basketball.

Least Exciting: Folding towels.

DR: Is there anything about Coach K off the court that we might find surprising?

JM: The funny thing is that most of the normally surprising facts aren’t surprising because of who Coach K is. Of course he still wishes me a Happy Birthday. Of course he works out a lot. Of course he remembers everyone’s name. He’s an incredible person that makes everyone around him better. I’d be most surprised if he took a day off.

DR: What prompted you to start The Monday Life?

JM: On December 24, 2009…my grandpa passed away. And I was there. It was cancer and man was it tough. But it was also a wake up call. I remember instantly thinking: “Life is short. Now is the time to do something good for others”.

And I had always wanted to do something good for others (a lot of us have this feeling), but I never knew when was the right time, or how to do it. So I always ended up waiting and waiting.

But when my grandpa died, I realized…we don’t have time to wait.

Plus, I knew who I wanted to help. I grew up painting windows at Duke Children’s Hospital with my mom. I met children who had more courage than anyone I’d ever known. And I saw how the environment around them could actually make them happier! So, I set out to transform their patient environments so they could be happier, and healthier.

DR: What kind of response have you gotten from “Lean on Me” video that was played during Countdown to Craziness?

JM: Incredible. Usually MUSIC VIDEO and HOSPITAL don’t go together. But that’s our mission – bring the awesomeness to children’s hospitals. And I think it’s surprising for people to see how happy a hospital can be. But the reality is…they are miraculous places. They heal children every single day. Major props to Dave Bradley (the genius behind the video).

DR: How often do you work with Duke Basketball players?

JM: Every day. It’s a commitment they’ve made to help hospitalized children. Not just a one-time thing.

I was even in the hospital last week and a patient actually referred to the players on a first-name basis: “Yea, I hang with Quinn and Rasheed tons”. That’s a pretty cool sign.

DR: How has fundraising gone for renovating the basketball court outside Duke Children’s Hospital?

JM: We need you. If we come together to support this, it’ll mean a better place to play for every single patient. It’ll mean they’ll get to experience the outdoors (which is incredibly healing). It’ll mean their parents will have a place to relax, and their brothers & sisters will be able to interact, and cope together.

It’ll be a beautiful thing – and we can only do it with your support. You can make it happen by visiting themondaylife.org!!!

DR: What are the different ways we can help The Monday Life?

JM: There are three things you can do.

1) Start Loving Mondays. It freaks people out.

2) Start giving $1, every Monday at themondaylife.org (This will help with #1)

3) Start sharing our mission so your friends can love Mondays too.

Thanks to DukeReport.com for sharing our story. And hopefully you found it useful in your life. If you’re waiting to do good, now is this time. Thank you for reading and Go Duke.

Note: Remember, you can donate directly to The Monday Life using this link:  http://my.mondaylife.org/fundraise?fcid=290802.