Everson Walls arrived at the Dallas Cowboys’ training camp in 1981 as an undrafted rookie from Grambling, but he led the NFL in interceptions in 3 of his first 5 seasons. He picked off 57 passes and made the Pro Bowl 4 times over his 14-year career which later had him with the Giants and the Browns. All that impresses me, but what impresses me much more is something he did at age 47.
Everson met Ron Springs at that 1981 training camp and they became good friends and teammates. Though they only played together 4 years before Springs went to Tampa Bay, their close friendship continued. At age 34, Ron began a battle with diabetes and that disease took a toll on his athletic body. It led to the amputation of his right foot and the big and middle toes on his left foot, and caused his hands to curl into knots. He was forced into a wheelchair and needed dialysis 3 times a week. He went on the national transplant waiting list in 2004. When things fell through on two of Ron’s relatives, Everson said, “Well, look, I know my blood type is the same as his. Why not give it a shot and see what happens?”
What happened was that Walls donated a kidney to his friend on Feb. 28, 2007. Afterwards, Ron Springs said, “My kidney is feeling good, and it’s all mine now.” Walls’ wife said, speaking about her husband, “The doctors told me he’s as healthy on the inside as outside.” Those doctors were speaking about his physical condition, but they could also have been speaking about something much more important. In this selfless act, Everson Walls put an extreme example of generosity on display. They intended to keep the transplant quiet, but word leaked out through Ron’s son who plays for the Washington Redskins. Even before the transplant, Springs said, “That’s brotherly love; it’s something I will always think about every day for the rest of my life.”
What is “generous” anyway? I guess it all depends on what you have. A million dollar gift may not be generous for some. One dollar is generous for others. When you give away one of only two kidneys, that’s generous. When you give away life itself, that’s beyond generosity and that is what Jesus did. “You know the grace of our Lord Jesus Christ, that though He was rich, yet for your sakes He became poor, so that you through His poverty might become rich.” (2 Cor. 8:9)
Jesus said, “It is more blessed to give than to receive.” (Acts 20:35) Jesus’ sacrificial giving is more blessed than all other giving, but we can follow his example and that of Walls and be blessed in our giving as well.
Article copyright (c) 2009 by Charles G. Mickey. All rights reserved.