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Toby's Take: Official Healthcare Provider

Len Dawson

September 12, 2022

As Lenny the Cool might say, leaders do more and talk less. People my age and younger knew Len Dawson as a broadcaster and found out later he led the Kansas City Chiefs to their first Super Bowl championship. When Dawson died late last month, tributes poured in from all over the world. He shared the Kansas City sports stage with only 3 other names: George Brett, Tom Watson and Buck O’Neil. More like the golfer and whole lot less like the baseball stars, Dawson was “the quiet type,” as The New York Times wrote, “who led by example.”

Leading by example

Len Dawson’s beloved Chiefs welcome fans back to Arrowhead tomorrow night for the home opener against the Los Angeles Chargers. Last week, the Chiefs opened their Hall of Honor so fans could remember Dawson with a video-rich display of his career.

I grew up watching Len Dawson as a sports anchor on KMBC-TV. When I was working as a reporter for the ABC affiliate in Lynchburg, Virginia, in the mid-90s, he came to town. He was traveling the country promoting early detection for prostate cancer, something that gave him many more active years. Others at the station knew who he was. I was more the one geeking out, and I had to do the live interview.

Dawson led by example that day. I don’t recall exactly what he said. If there is a VHS recording, it’s on a deteriorating tape in my basement waiting to (never, probably) be digitized.

But I recall it something like, “Men, don’t put it off. Get your prostate checked early and often.”

And he then moved on to the next city and the next TV station.

There was plenty to learn about prostate cancer but not a lot more to say than that. He had mastered a skill of delivering a strike to a receiver (TV viewer) and then moving down the field.

These major league teams, blue-chip programs, great entertainment venues and schools would not partner with us without trusting that we provide top-notch healthcare.

Caring for the Kingdom and beyond

All this is top of mind here at The University of Kansas Health System. We, too, were saddened by the Hall of Famer’s death, just as we were impressed with his ability years ago to receive a diagnosis, get treatment, tell others about it and move on. Maybe that’s where aligning with well-known athletes serves the greater good.

We became The Official Healthcare Provider of the Kansas City Chiefs a decade ago, in 2012. Same with the Kansas City Royals the year before. Since that time, the health system has become “official” for Kansas Athletics, entering into a collaboration with LMH Health to provide care to athletes and students under an academic medical institution umbrella. Just like Arrowhead and Kauffman, we have first-aid locations for fans at T-Mobile Center (where Michael Bublé killed last weekend!).

And so on and so on.

This led to a partnership with 4 local school districts, Blue Valley, De Soto, Lansing and Shawnee Mission, to provide a full-time certified athletic trainer for each high school and middle school athletic trainers for Blue Valley and Shawnee Mission.¬

Powerful partnerships

Having a lot of people see our logo and maybe think about getting their care with us is great. What we really like is people to know these major league teams, these blue-chip programs, these great entertainment venues and these schools would not enter into a partnership with us without trusting that we are going to provide top-notch healthcare.

It’s all really very exciting, this time of year. The Chiefs will pause to remember Len Dawson, the Royals are playing the up-and-comers, the Jayhawks are national title holders and The Eagles and Bruce Springsteen will play at T-Mobile. We’ll be along for the ride.

So cool.


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