The Shawn Burr Foundation was founded on Shawn’s birthday on July 1, 2000. He turned 34 years old at the time. The initial focus of his charity was to raise funds for local youth based charities in St. Clair County, and thanks to so many we were able to raise a little over $1 million dollars during that time period.
In 2011, Burr was diagnosed with AML which initially shocked him and his family as it would any of us. All of a sudden, Shawn was faced with his own mortality and is still not sure of the outcome? In typical Burr fashion, he faces it head on and desires to raise money for charity for a new cause with his foundation. Providing funds for research to find a cure for Acute Myeloid Leukemia (AML). Burr thinks of others before himself once again, and wants to leave a legacy through service here.
Like Mitch Albom’s headline article in the Free Press, “Ex-Red Wing Shawn Burr versus Cancer – My Money’s on Burr,” Shawn’s positive attitude and willingness to battle his cancer has shined through. Behind all his quips ‘n quotes, funny stories, and joking around is a man who dearly loves his family, friends, co-workers, and community. Burr realizes that there is something bigger and greater than himself. His genuine goodness and kindness from his early teachings at home as a young boy shine through like his “home town boy – 1950’s smile” straight from a Richie Cunningham re-run we enjoy from the memorable television series, “Happy Days.” Burr’s hair is gone now temporarily with his chemotherapy, but that boyish charm and grin still remains the same.
When Burr was asked to talk about what inspired him to start his foundation, he eased back into hismetal chair at Joe Louis Arena as we sat in the media room. Shawn shared, “I saw a lot of people trying to raise money in my area and I thought that I could use my good fortune as a former NHL player with the Red Wings to give back. I thought bringing in celebrities could bring in more money.”
Shawn went on to describe the special relationship he had with his father, Gerry, and how he inspired him while growing up. He said, “My dad was always there for me. I don’t think he ever missed a home game I played in for 32 years. He never missed work and was so consistent in my life. Dad was a pipe fitter and a welder in Sarnia. Mom was an office worker. They always showed how much they cared by investing their time and energy into their family and community. That’s just what I want to do.” He has been giving back ever since. He didn’t forget where he came from like his parents taught him.
As he reflected on his life further, Burr was asked to discuss his “greatest success in life thus far” and in Burrzie fashion, he gavea big grin. Pausing for a moment, Shawn said, “I’d have to say it’s my family, my wife, and my two girls. Amanda has given up a lot for me to play hockey and follow my dreams. We’ve been together for over 30 years since high school. She and my kids are my greatest success.”