If you want to get Hall of Fame quarterback and former Cougar star Steve Young and his wife Barb excited, just ask them about the newest project of the Forever Young Foundation.
The ESPN football analyst was in Heber City at the Red Ledges Golf Club on Monday for the Steve Young Mountain Classic, a charity golf event that raised funds for the foundation and specifically for its newest initiative: Sophie’s Place.
He joked around about football, saying things like, “She (Barb) says all the time that if she hadn’t been so sick and pregnant then, she never would’ve let me retire.”
He also talked about how BYU’s passing attack helped shape the current NFL and discussed concerns about concussions in pro football.
But it was this new venture that really got Steve excited and showed the spark the Youngs have for giving back.
“We’ve already built the Forever Young Zone at Primary Children’s Hospital,” Steve explained. “It’s amazing how many hospitals don’t have a place for the kids to go. They just sit in their rooms. It’s a simple idea, but I think it’s really efficacious for a kid to get out and be around each other.
“Then two years ago Anne-Marie Barton’s daughter (Sophie) passed away. She was a singer and a volunteer at the hospital who was phenomenally talented. She was a singer-songwriter who frequently performed for the kids at the hospital. They had the idea to honor her and that got us into music therapy.”
Barb talked about how she read years ago about some of the benefits of music therapy in healthcare but that it wasn’t until recently that the idea has gained traction.
“It’s such a great program,” she said. “We thought how fantastic it would be to have a music therapy room and to name it after one of the most brilliant and talented girls who also also spent 100 hours volunteering at the hospital, playing her music, spreading her gift and healing these children through her music. So that’s why we decided to name it Sophie’s Place and we are so excited about it.”
Anne-Marie Barton, who worked for years with Red Ledges as an interior designer, was just as animated and enthusiastic about the idea of building a place where other young patients can explore their musical creativity.
“It kind of feels like we’re adding a “cool zone” to the hospital,” she said. “There are different ages there. There will be the ability for kids to go in there and record their own songs and then they can put them right onto YouTube. Then they are cool and like other kids. It will be gratifying to them. They will have their own venue.”
The Youngs said there will be other uses for Sophie’s Place as well. They hope to have musicians come and perform for the kids there.
“The idea is to have musicians who are affiliated with Utah come through and play at Sophie’s Place,” Steve said. “A lot of my friends that are musicians will love to do that for the kids. It’s going to be something we’ll build in other Forever Young Zones but this will be the flagship.”
Both firmly believe that enabling this type of aid will open the door for great things to happen with the patients.
“We are finding kids that don’t know how to feed themselves but for some reason can pound on a drum,” Barb said. “They are taking those neural pathways and creating new synapses to change the pounding motion into eating. It’s amazing. There are kids that can’t speak, but can sing. That’s why we’re so excited about it.”
Sophie’s Place is just the next in a series of projects the Forever Young Foundation has worked on. Now going on its 20th year, Steve gives a lot of the credit to the team and particularly to his wife for what it has been able to accomplish.
“It started very slowly and it’s always grown organically,” he said. “In the last 13 or 14 years with Barb, that’s when we really hit our stride. She keeps coming up with great ideas. We have a great team and a great family that has formed over the years. The underlying philosophy has been to teach to fish instead of giving a fish.”
Monday’s charity event at the Red Ledges Golf Club — one of a trio Steve does every year in Utah, Arizona and the Bay area in California — drew 108 golfers and he said he expected it would raise between $250,000 and $400,000.
“This is our third year at Red Ledges and they just treat us like family,” Steve said. “We have a connected-ness with them. They love what we are doing and they do a great job. We’re glad to be here and they make it look like we know what we are doing. It’s just a great place.”
For more information on Steve Young’s charity efforts and specifically on Sophie’s Place (including donations), visit www.foreveryoung.org.
Daily Herald sports editor Jared Lloyd can be reached at 801-344-2555 or at email@example.com. He can also be followed on Twitter at @JaredrLloyd.