Newhall Coffee for a Cause - The Love Blend - 27 years in the making...
The Love Blend Coffee is an accumulation of all that we stand for. We support our people, our community, and the world we all share. We have highlighted a few of the major causes we stand for (see Patriot Blend blog where we have donated 4 million cups to U.S. troops), and over 150,000 meals to hungry children (future blog coming soon), today we celebrate my brother.
Corey McMullen Leukemia Fund
Corey Randall McMullen (1962-1987) died from Leukemia at Henry Mayo Newhall Memorial Hospital while watching a Lakers/Celtics NBA Championship basketball game with my dad and me in June of 1987. I was 21 years old and I will never forget the tear that fell down Corey’s face as he took his last breath. It was as if he knew he could not fight anymore, as if he knew he would be at peace with his Savior soon. One minute we were watching the game, and I remember Corey shouting about a missed Laker lay-up. We hated the Boston Celtics (still do!) and loved the Los Angeles Lakers! Byron Scott, Corey’s former teammate from Arizona State University (where he played basketball for two years) was playing, and Corey was rooting for him. In the process of doing so, Corey told me he felt like he was going to pass out. Minutes later he took his last breath. My hero was gone forever.
One week before Corey died, I was at his house. The doctors had given him very bad news. Nothing was working. His cancer was getting worse and time was short. I remember this moment as if it were yesterday. Corey stayed mostly in his bedroom, while my parents and I came over to visit. While my mom cooked him dinner, I had a brief moment alone with my brother. We were not a very touchy family so I really don’t know where I got the strength or courage to just hold him in my arms for what seemed like an eternity that afternoon. I will never forget the feeling I had as I told him over and over and over and over how much I loved him, while rocking him in my arms. We both cried as we held onto each other. My words were flowing with the tears and I became bolder and bolder as I told Corey how much I loved him, how I would never forget him. While holding him as tight as I could, I told him that I would dedicate my entire basketball career to him and play in his memory. As he listened to my words, his crying became deeper. He just cried into my shoulder while I cried into his. Not having many moments like this our entire lives, I didn’t want to let go of my brother. It was a very special moment, one I will never forget.
I wanted to give Corey something meaningful, a word of encouragement to fill him with hope, to make him feel a little better. Or maybe I was trying to make myself feel better. Despite the pain that filled my heart, I still had hope. Hope that God would answer my billionth prayer for Corey. Hope that someday we would all look back at this time and be thankful for God’s deliverance. The Bible says that even faith as small as a mustard seed can cause a mountain to move. Well, my faith was at least as big as a mustard seed and I was convinced that God was going to heal my big brother. However, during that long embrace with Corey, I felt a change in my hope. I felt like maybe this really was goodbye. I felt closer to Corey that moment than at any other moment in my life.
One of Corey’s roommates came into the room unexpected and the moment was over. We quickly pulled ourselves together, wiping away our tears, trying to act as if nothing significant had just transpired. Typical male machismo. Nothing could have been further from the truth. It was one of the most significant moments in my life. I made a promise to my brother that day. A promise I will never forget.
Corey was an amazing person. My big brother! My hero! His life was a big inspiration to me. I liked whatever he liked. I did whatever he did. He played basketball, so I played basketball. Corey’s number at ASU was #52, so my number was #52. I remember when Corey got a perm in college. At the time, I was a freshman in high school and wanted nothing more than to duplicate my big brother’s new, tight, curly ‘do. I begged my mom to let me do it and she finally gave in.
Well, as a tall, super-skinny and lanky dork, that huge perm on top of my head made me look like a pencil or a carrot-top. (Both quickly became unflattering nicknames that my friends did not hesitate calling me.) I looked ridiculous! I was made fun of the entire time that chemical kept my hair tightly curled. And I thought it was so cool! I looked like my big brother, and life was good. Corey went to Point Loma Nazarene College, so I went to Point Loma too. Corey transferred to College of the Canyons C.O.C. (junior college), so I transferred to C.O.C. too. Corey went to ASU, and if they had recruited me, I might have gone there too. Corey windsurfed and wore Vans, so I did too. Corey was a major influence in my life. He earned a full-ride basketball scholarship to a major university, thus paving the way for me to follow.
Two years after he died, my promise to Corey became rather well-known. This was during my senior year, while I was playing basketball at San Diego State University. An Associated Press reporter did a story about me and my promise to Corey. To my delight, the story hit just about every major newspaper in the United States.
It was the most nationally publicized story ever written about me and I became recognized as the player with a cause. I was playing for my brother. Corey was getting press and I was happy. I figured that as long as people were talking about him, he was still alive. His memory was alive. And to remember my brother, believe me, is a blessing because his life was a blessing. He was like an angel.
When my basketball career finally ended in France due to my own health- related reasons, my promise to my brother did not end. I put his picture on the side of every bag of coffee, and the Corey McMullen Leukemia Fund is still alive and well today. Thousands of kitchens have a photo of Corey in them. Every year, when we are nominated for the Los Angeles Leukemia and Lymphoma Societies Man of the Year, Corey is remembered. And when he is remembered, I feel good.
*Mitch won the Los Angeles Leukemia & Lymphoma Society's Man Of the Year twice for our support and contributions.