An excerpt taken from Childrens Hospital of Michigan quarterly publication:
Want to find out how much kids love Joey Harrington? Just go to a Detroit Lions home game and count the number of children in the stands wearing the young quarterback’s #3 jersey. It’ll be halftime before you’re done.
And it seems the feeling is mutual – Joey loves kids too.
“I’ve always liked working with kids,” the Lions quarterback says.” Back in Oregon, I worked with the Shriners Children’s Hospital there. And when I came to Detroit my rookie year, I knew I’d get involved with Children’s Hospital of Michigan eventually.”
But he didn’t know he’d soon be spending time in the hospital himself. In December of his rookie season, Joey experienced an irregular heartbeat during a game against Tampa Bay. He left the game and was transported to a local hospital, where he later had a cardiac ablation procedure to repair an electrical disturbance in his heart.
Joey missed the last two games of that season, but made a complete recovery. Now, in his characteristic positive attitude, he sees only the good that came out of it.
“After I had my heart procedure, that’s when it hit me that I could really do some good with this,” he says. “I can tell kids who are going through the same type of procedure that hey, I’ve been through it and everything turned out OK.”
Since then, Joey has found other ways to help kids. In 2002, he and his family established the Harrington Family Foundation to support local and national non-profit organizations working to improve healthcare and education for children. The foundation has made financial donations to many children’s organizations, including a $25,000 gift to purchase a special cardiac ablation instrument for the Pediatric Cardiology program at Children’s Hospital of Michigan.