REXFORD, N.Y. (NEWS10) — The New York Knockout, a semi-professional women’s tackle football team based in the Capital Region, donates proceeds from its home games to local charities.
“It seemed like a really great way to be part of the community,” said co-owner and general manager Theresa Butts, who along with her husband Lou Butts, began the donation practice when they bought the team in 2018. Since then they’ve raised money for Girls Inc., Northeast Parent and Child Society, and the Ronald McDonald House Charities. The latter hits close to home for Lou, who’s the team’s co-owner and head coach.
His son Louis A. Butts V, affectionately nicknamed “LB”, would have been 14 years old on Wednesday. But instead of planning a party, LB’s ashes sit on the shelf in the Butts’ living room. LB was born with a rare genetic condition called MPS 1, where the glucose in the body is stored incorrectly. It affects one in 100,000 people, according to the National Library of Medicine.
“Without a bone marrow transplant, your life expectancy is 15-20 years,” explained Lou Butts.
Butts and his wife at the time found the best children’s hospital in the world specializing in MPS, and were off to the Minnesota Children’s Hospital some 1,200 miles away from home. His then wife stayed out there free of charge at the Ronald McDonald House, while Lou traveled back and forth for work to maintain their health insurance.
“It was just worrying constantly,” he shared. “I was alone, isolated while they were out there. It was tough.”
A bone marrow transplant could have extended LB’s life into his 50’s, but he caught an infection during the process. His little immune system, knocked out by the chemo, couldn’t fight it off.
“I got a call saying ‘you better be here quick cause he’s going,'” Lou said, fighting through tears.
LB died on May 2, 2009 five days after his first birthday. The emotions are still raw more than a decade later. So is Lou’s gratitude for the Ronald McDonald house, and the small comforts they were able to provide in a scary and uncertain time.
“They take away… a lot of your worries of living, the meals prepped. Little things like entertaining your other children,” explained Butts. “All those little tiny worries that you have, they take care of all that for you.”
According to Kimmy Venter, Director of Communications for the Ronald McDonald House Charities of the Capital Region, that’s precisely the mission of the organization.
“We’re here to take care of all those other stresses in life so that families can focus on what matters most, which is their children and being together,” said Venter, who mentioned the organization is always looking for volunteers.
Kickoff’s at 5 p.m. Saturday at Mohonasen High School, where Coach Lou promises “real, good football.”
“You can go and do something fun with your family and know you’re helping other families in need,” said Venter.