Norv Turner & MS: A Cause Close to Heart
Published on April 22, 2012
As head coach for the San Diego Chargers, Norv Turner teaches his team strength and resilience. Long before he ever took to the gridiron, Turner learned firsthand about those important qualities from a very special role model: his mom, Vicky.
When Turner was about ten years old, Vicky was diagnosed with multiple sclerosis, the neurological disease that affects the central nervous system and can lead to severe debilitation. The single mother of five never complained.
“She was pretty amazing that way,” recalls Turner. “She didn’t want to be a burden for us. She kept things as normal as she could. She did a great job of not letting it affect us or the way we were being raised.”
Vicky, whose husband had abandoned the family years earlier, was in her 30s when she learned she had MS. Back then, treatments were few and far between. But despite her physical limitations — she spent her last few years aided by a wheelchair — she was a pillar of strength for her children, encouraging them to pursue their dreams and make her proud. By the time Vicky passed away in 1989 in her 60s, her dreams had come true, too.
“She wanted to see her children grown, which she did,” says Turner. “She also got to enjoy her grandchildren.”
Vicky also hoped that someday there would be a cure for MS. “I’ve been able to keep that dream alive in a small way,” says Turner, a devoted member of the Pacific South Coast Chapter of the National Multiple Sclerosis Society. A few years ago he joined the chapter’s board of trustees, which oversees and guides chapter operations.
It’s a cause that continues to be close to the family’s heart. About ten years ago, Turner’s sister Janis was also diagnosed with MS. But, as Turner points out, times have changed.
“So much has been done in terms of understanding, research, and treatment,” he says. “When people are diagnosed now it’s no longer a totally negative thing. It’s not hopeless. There’s a lot more reason to have a positive outlook. There are better ways of managing it.”
For the fourth year, Turner is serving as the chair of the 18th Annual MS Golf Invitational sponsored by Sycuan Casino, which takes place on Monday, May 7, at La Jolla Country Club. The legendary coach plans to play in the fundraising tournament, along with members of his team and other local celebrities. (A handful of player spots are still available on a first-come, first-served basis.)
“It’s a combination of all the things I want to do,” says Turner. “Raising money for research and also bringing awareness. The more people you touch, the more it grows. People understand that this disease is out there and that we can find a cure.” 760.448.8497, golfms.org Annamaria Stephens