More than three decades have passed since former Denver Broncos quarterback Brian Griese lost his mother to breast cancer, but he’ll never forget how hard it was to cope with that loss at such a young age.
As an adult, he parlayed that grief into action. Along with his wife, Brook, a clinical psychologist specializing in childhood trauma and loss, he founded Judi’s House, a facility that helps grieving families after the passing of a loved one. It’s named after Griese’s mom, Judi, who passed away in 1988.
Judi’s House was the recipient of a major donation by Major League Baseball, as part of the All-Star Legacy Program that funnels $5 million back into the host city in the form of refurbished baseball fields and charitable donations. Commissioner Rob Manfred and Rockies owner Dick Monfort took a tour of Judi’s House on Monday and presented the Grieses with a donation check worth $250,000 to go to the facility.
“The best part of the All-Star Game is what we leave behind in terms of legacy gifts,” Manfred said. “There are great programs in every community and this was one that was absolutely a standout, and we’re just pleased to be associated with it.”
Judi’s House provides a therapeutic outlet for kids who have been through the trauma of losing a loved one -- often a parent -- and then having to pick up the pieces in the aftermath. As Griese experienced, that can be nearly impossible for a kid to navigate, even with a strong support system.
Every room in Judi’s House is designed to help kids express themselves and come to terms with their grief. Therapy rooms, arts and crafts, playrooms -- and there’s a garden in the back.
“We want to take a tragedy and turn them into positives in a kid’s life,” Griese explained.
Judi’s House opened in 2002 and has grown exponentially since then, in the size of the staff, the offerings of the facility and national recognition.
Griese, who starred in the NFL from 1998-2008, expressed appreciation for MLB’s involvement.
“The Colorado Rockies have been wonderful supporters of Judi’s House for many, many years. Our relationship with them has grown from just players being involved, to the Monfort family, who has been so supportive to what we’ve done in this community,” Griese said. “And this is another example of that support. It’s wonderful to develop the relationship with Major League Baseball and we’re excited about growing that in the future. “
The All-Star Legacy Program is an annual effort designed to leave a lasting impact throughout the local community while also supporting national charitable organizations with close ties to Major League Baseball, including Boys & Girls Clubs of America, the Jackie Robinson Foundation and Stand Up To Cancer, among others.
The 2021 All-Star Legacy effort notably features local improvements to youth baseball/softball playing fields, a local Boys & Girls Club, and financial contributions to local organizations providing much-needed services to vulnerable groups within the greater Denver community. Since 1997, MLB and host All-Star Clubs have donated approximately $95 million through the All-Star Legacy initiative.