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    Q&A with Pat and Tyler Summitt

    By: Sean Cartell
    SEC Digital Network

    BIRMINGHAM, Ala. - The Southeastern Conference in cooperation with its 12-member institutions has organized the “We Back Pat” Week, a week-long initiative focused on bringing awareness and recognition to the Pat Summitt Foundation Fund of The Community Foundation of Middle Tennessee and its fight against Alzheimer’s disease.

    In this SEC Digital Network Q&A, we caught up with Pat and Tyler Summitt to get their thoughts on the Pat Summitt Foundation Fund, “We Back Pat” Week and a variety of other topics.

    Pat Summitt

    SEC Digital Network: Pat, why did you make the decision to start the foundation and why was doing that so important to you?

    Pat Summitt:
    “Since I was a little girl, I have always wanted to do my best with what hand life deals me. After my diagnosis, it was important for me to accept what was ahead and then take action. After learning more about this challenge for numerous Americans, it made sense for me to personally fight for myself and at the same time publicly fight for others. As we have learned more and more about what is going on scientifically, I knew that I wanted to help support the talented scientists on the front lines of research and care giving initiatives. The vision of The Pat Summitt Foundation Fund is simply my way to put my heart into this effort.”

    SEC Digital Network: What are your long-term and short-term goals with the foundation?

    Pat Summitt:
    “Short-term, we want to build a great team that can ‘work smart’ and make a difference in this fight; long-term, we want to help the scientists find a cure.”

    SEC Digital Network: What are your thoughts on the SEC’s We Back Pat week and how do you believe it can benefit the cause?

    Pat Summitt:
    “I am very thankful to the SEC and Commissioner Mike Slive for all their support. I have always wanted to be a worthy ambassador of the University of Tennessee and the Southeastern Conference. I am very thankful that my SEC family is supporting this effort in a big way. I hope awareness will grow and our team will be known throughout the country.”

    SEC Digital Network: How much does it mean to you that just by doing your daily job of coaching basketball that you are bringing hope to people with dementia and helping to bring awareness to the cause?

    Pat Summitt:
    “I am humbled that my love for basketball and teaching could help encourage others in their own personal battle. I love every minute of coaching and teaching my team. I hope to encourage others to continue to give their gifts and talents to the world.”

    SEC Digital Network: What are your thoughts about how much has already been done to help the cause since you disclosed your diagnosis in late August?

    Pat Summitt:
    “Tyler and I are excited that our hope has action. We have been overwhelmed with the outpouring of support and encouragement thus far. We hope that as time passes, good will come from meeting this challenge head on and the Foundation Fund will grow in strength to be a major player in this battle. We are pleased with our start in the fight while there is still much more to be done.”

    Tyler Summitt

    SEC Digital Network: Why was it so important for you and your mother to start this foundation and how much has it meant to her?

    Tyler Summitt:
    “After mom’s diagnosis, it was important for us to understand the challenge before us. My mom has never been one to sit back and let life control her attitude. She immediately wanted to take action and help everyone in her predicament. The vision of the Foundation Fund was therapeutic for us. It was a way to channel our frustration into something positive for others.”

    SEC Digital Network: How important was it for you to be involved with the foundation and what do you hope to accomplish through your work with the foundation?

    Tyler Summitt:
    “My hope for the foundation is centered around my mother’s legacy. Mom continues to teach me daily about giving to others and living life to the fullest. I hope her Foundation Fund will become something bigger than basketball that helps millions of people with their battle against dementia and Alzheimer’s. Mom is a champion on the basketball court. I hope this effort will show that mom is a champion also in life.”

    SEC Digital Network: What are your thoughts on the SEC’s We Back Pat week and how do you believe it can benefit the cause?

    Tyler Summitt:
    “Mom and I are very thankful for the SEC’s We Back Pat Week. I have grown up cheering for the SEC in every sport and I am very moved that Commissioner Mike Slive and the SEC family would support mom in such a great way. We are focused on awareness and fundraising right now and I hope the SEC We Back Pat Week will help mom’s Foundation Fund continue to grow quickly so we can make progress in the battle.”

    SEC Digital Network: How impressed have you been with how much has already been done and contributed to help the cause since your mother disclosed her diagnosis in late August?

    Tyler Summitt:
    “I have been deeply moved at the outpouring of support for mom. As you can imagine, I am her biggest fan and I know her better than anyone. To see the support for mom now is incredibly moving and emotional for me. I am extremely proud of my mom and I sincerely thank everyone that wishes to join her team and help her fight her greatest opponent. We have come a long way since August and we have a long way to go.”

    SEC Digital Network: The fact that your mother has been one of the first public figures to fight the disease in the public eye, how much does that speak to the lessons you have learned from her your entire life?

    Tyler Summitt:
    “As her son, I have always looked up to her and wanted to learn everything possible from her. Since I was born, she found a way to teach me life lessons and basketball lessons daily. She has continued to make her Lady Vol program an open book. In this battle, she is no different. In this lesson, she is teaching me the importance of helping others even during your toughest challenge. She wants to win as a team in this battle and I hope and pray with everyone’s help, we will do exactly that, win.”