They don’t really make ‘em like Bill Davidge anymore.
It’s a cliché but it’s hard to find many people who don’t like the Columbus Blue Jackets TV personality, who has bounced from radio analyst to TV game analyst to intermission reports while serving the team since its inception.
Relentlessly positive and with an easy way about him, Davidge has been one of the most popular members of the organization throughout its nearly two decades of existence. And that was reinforced through the worst of times in the summer of 2014 when Davidge was diagnosed with multiple myeloma, a cancer of the white blood plasma in the bone marrow.
Davidge received thousands of emails from fans as he went through treatment, but one action has stood above others to leave a lasting legacy. In the summer of 2015, a student at Miami University in Oxford named Michael Harris organized a golf outing as his fraternity philanthropy project in honor of Davidge and his cancer fight.
There were plenty of ties between the Harris and Davidge families before that. Davidge’s son, Rob, is a financial planner and had Harris’ father, Robert, as a client at his practice. In June 2008, Robert Harris died in a car accident, prompting Rob – who lost his mother, Leann, Bill Davidge’s first wife, in a crash when he was a kid – to take Michael Harris under his wing. When Michael wanted to go to Miami – the alma mater of his father and where Bill coached hockey for years in the 1980s – Bill picked up the phone and helped make it happen.
So the golf tournament was a natural choice but one that has proved to be a great one for those fighting multiple myeloma. Harris is no longer behind the golf outing after running it for two years – he’s a proud RedHawks alumnus now – but Davidge and his family have taken over. Since its inception two years ago, the event and its related fundraisers have raised more than $30,000 in the fight against the cancer.
This year’s golf event, to be held Aug. 21 at Pinnacle Golf Club in Grove City near Columbus, should add quite a bit to that number benefiting Ohio State’s Comprehensive Cancer Center – The James.
“We’re almost sold out,” Davidge told 1OB late last week. “We’re a month away, and we can allow 36 teams and we have 31 right now. We have hole sponsors. We just landed Labatt as one of our major sponsors. Those are the kinds of things that I’ve tried to help out with now and trying to take this thing to another level.”
If there’s one thing the Davidges know – other than hockey – it’s golf. Rob and Davidge’s other son, Willy, are pretty darn good at the game, and the Davidge family has lived on a golf course in some way or another for decades. Bill himself picked up the game after he arrived to play hockey at Ohio State and roomed with All-American golfer Paul Davis, and his last quarter at OSU included golf all day and classes at night. And if you know most hockey players, the only thing they take about as seriously as their main sport is what happens when they hit the links.
In other words, the play at this golf outing will be no joke, but the main thrust, of course, is continuing to raise money in the fight against multiple myeloma. That fight is more than personal to Davidge, who continues to feel the effects of his diagnosis even as he is in remission.
“Three years ago when I was diagnosed, you’re looking at a life span possibly of three to five to seven years,” he said. “You don’t know. So I said, ‘I don’t want a memorial (tournament), I want a fundraiser.' And I’ve got a research team that is very close to finding a cure for this, they’re doing a great job.
“I’m in remission right now. This is a cancer you can’t cure, but I’ve had no signs in my blood for at least six months. I still have to take my chemo pills and everything else. I take my medications, but I’ve got a quality of life that hasn’t really hampered me that much. It’s just putting up with all the chemicals and how it goes through my system.”
That, of course, is what this story is really all about. Three years since his diagnosis, Davidge has met cancer head-on, something everyone who knows him – whether it's in person or merely through the television – is grateful for.
This specific story, though, is about a golf event, one that has now become a major way for Davidge and his family to continue the fight. In pure Davidge fashion, it has grown because of the people involved and their commitment to doing things the right way and having a good time along the way.
“Our motto was ‘Bring a friend,’” Davidge said. “I think that’s what’s happening. We’re going to be sold out before you know it, and it’s because of that motto and that philosophy – ‘Just bring a friend.’ They’ve been able to do that, so we’re pretty excited.”
For more information on the golf tournament, visit DavidgeGolf.com.
Tomorrow, we’ll talk to Davidge about his first love – hockey, and specifically the Columbus Blue Jackets.