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Fighting as a team

Matt Pais

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Dailey secures MDRT Foundation grant for organization supporting people with ALS.
Photo by Andy Lyons /Allsport

It is remarkable that Andreas T. Dailey Sr., CLTC, and his friend O.J. Brigance are both still alive. And even more remarkable what they do with the time they have been given.

The former, a 22-year MDRT member from Owings Mills, Maryland, was shot in the face during an armed robbery in 1984. A quarter of a centimeter closer to a main artery, a doctor told him, and he’d be dead. The latter, a professional football player who won a Super Bowl with the Baltimore Ravens in 2000, was diagnosed in 2007 with ALS, a nerve disease that brings with it a life expectancy of two to five years.

“For about two years after I heard about it, every time I would hear O.J.’s name I would go into a shell because I love the guy and I didn’t want to hear the news,” said Dailey, who in 2020 endorsed a $10,000 Worldwide grant from the MDRT Foundation for the Brigance Brigade Foundation (BBF). “But I had to give that up because he wasn’t quitting on life. Where other people might want to quit, he said, ‘Let’s get started.’”

The grant went toward funding equipment, medication, in-home care and more for families dealing with the mental, physical, financial and emotional difficulties of a disease where the mind stays sharp, but the body deteriorates. Dailey is a board member for the organization and serves on the finance committee while his wife, Lisa, works on the grants committee.

Dailey also facilitates business connections and speaking opportunities for Brigance, who, no longer able to speak, uses his eyes to type messages into a machine. (Brigance wrote an entire book, “Strength of a Champion,” that way.)

“I like showing him off, taking him places and motivating people and hearing them say, ‘Wow, this guy’s amazing,’” Dailey said.

The bond between the two men goes back 20 years. That’s when Brigance spent his one and only year with the Ravens and met Dailey, who was involved in the Fellowship of Christian Athletes, during the team’s Bible study. The two hit it off, and to this day text each other two or more times per week to say, “I love you, bro. How are you doing today?”

Together, through BBF, Dailey and Brigance work on an annual fundraiser race (called the 5.7K Championship race, in honor of Brigance’s uniform number 57), whose first year featured the entire Ravens team running the race. There is also an annual formal dinner/fundraiser/auction (canceled this year due to COVID-19), and meetings every two to three weeks that Brigance leads, even during football season. This is on top of Brigance’s full-time job with the Ravens, working in player development to mentor members of the team and going into the office every day (pre-COVID-19) despite needing 3½ hours each morning to get ready.

“His eye is never on himself,” Dailey said of Brigance, whose medical coverage is paid by the NFL. “It’s always for O.J. to help other people.”

Dailey is no more inclined than his friend to put the focus on himself. It is not until late in our hour-long interview that he shares more about his own background. That he grew up “dirt poor,” eating powdered eggs. That he never went to college and, until he was 20, his life was defined by drugs, guns and participating in armed robberies. At that age, he found himself divorced and the father of an infant son. He credits finding religion, entering the financial services profession and the lessons gleaned from Brigance all as crucial steps to the life he has built, so different from where he started.

Now his three kids all have master’s degrees, and he goes on mission trips (like helping at an orphanage in the Dominican Republic for survivors of rape and abuse). Dailey also sometimes brings high school kids to the Ravens facility for a tour and to be inspired by Brigance, and he speaks with other kids about his own journey.

“You can’t let an excuse hold you back in life,” he tells them. “How do you keep moving forward? You don’t quit.”

Of course, it leads back to the first thing he says in our interview: “Life is too short not to take time to do stuff.” It’s a simple philosophy, but the reasons Dailey believes it, and the ways that he lives it, are anything but.

Contact: Andreas Dailey Sr. atdailey@4-benefits.com

 

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