Legacy of late Fresno State football coach to benefit new Neuroscience Institute

Fresno State’s head football coach Pat Hill announced a fund to honor the memory of his longtime friend and coaching colleague Dan Brown who died of brain cancer. The Dan Brown Legacy Fund supports the Central California Neuroscience Institute at Community Regional Medical Center.

Brown’s family and former football players were on hand July 29 at the downtown Fresno hospital to hear Coach Hill urge others to help in building the new program. “We have an opportunity to save some lives here in Fresno,” Hill said. “You don’t have to go elsewhere. I’ve said for my 14 years here that we don’t have to take a backseat to anybody and this hospital is once again proving it.”

Hill, who had known Brown more than four decades and coached with him at Fresno State for 12 years, said he watched his friend struggle with a brain tumor for two years, driving back and forth to San Francisco for treatment while he continued to coach the Bulldogs team.

Brown’s daughter Tara Mackey said she hopes Hill’s generous gift to the fund and others’ donations will help other families avoid the stress her family went through. “He went through such a hard time and for others not to have to travel out of the Valley is huge,” she said. “Because I remember the times my parents would have to travel back and forth to San Francisco three or four times a month.”

“This is not just another program,” said Phyllis Baltz, the hospital’s chief operating officer. “We now have physicians of a higher caliber than ever before in our Valley. Patients who once had to travel far from home, family and friends for specialty medical consultation or to receive care can now stay right here at home. They get the exceptional, leading-edge treatment that you previously would have only found in large urban cities.”

Brown’s son Travis said he’s been impressed by what he’s seen at the hospital. “It’s a great program. I know my dad would be so proud.”  Jordan Brown, added to his brother’s sentiments, “To know that someone as great as my dad could start off all this is an honor. This program is going to be right here in Fresno for everyone who needs it.”

Hill said he didn’t hesitate when he was approached by Vincent Ricchiuti to help build a legacy to honor Brown and help others with neurological diseases and injuries. Ricchiuti helped form a group of young professionals last March called Encore to help Community Medical Centers' foundation raise funds.  The group is already halfway to its goal of raising $250,000 by the end of this year’s football season.

“Danny Brown was not only a special person and a special coach, he touched so many people’s lives,” Hill said.

Brown died in March 2009 at the age of 50. He had been a member of the Fresno State coaching staff for 12 seasons, the last seven as defensive coordinator. He left behind his wife Mindy, six children and four grandchildren.

For more information or to make a gift to the Central California Neuroscience Institute visit http://www.danbrownlegacyfund.com/ or call (559) 459-2670.

This story was reported by Erin Kennedy. She can be reached at ekennedy@communitymedical.org.