The Times West Virginian

Bob Herzel

June 29, 2013

HERTZEL COLUMN: Robinson keeps his faith through difficulties

MORGANTOWN — Faith, Maurice Robinson is saying, that is what’s keeping him and his family going.

He can’t really define what faith is. No one can, but he knows he has it and it is unwavering.

It has to be.

The last time we had talked was just before he was inducted into the West Virginia University Athletic Hall of Fame.

It was, he is remembering, a wonderful time, as well it should have been for few deserved such an honor more than he.

But even in the midst of that, there was heartache. His son, Marlan, who had survived a horrific automobile accident a couple of years earlier,

“He got burned. The car flipped over on him. The catalytic converter came down on the left side of his head and his shoulder. He was burned down to his skull and down to the bone in the left shoulder. Even the bone was burned,” Robinson recalled when we talked previously.

It wasn’t an easy recovery, but Marlan worked through it, received his undergraduate degree and his master’s.

All was well until the night of April 27, 2011, when police found him at 9:15 p.m. in a pool of blood in a Morgantown parking lot, a victim of being shot by a pair of teens while he was out doing a favor for a friend.

“He lost his spleen. He tore up his small intestines,” Robinson said.

That night they prayed at the university hospital.

“We didn’t think he was going to make it. The doctor didn’t think he was going to make it. Thanks to the trauma unit at the university, they saved his life. It was very much touch and go,” Robinson said, thinking back to that night.

“Initially, we couldn’t even see him. There was a priest there going in and out; he was keeping us informed what was going on. He was telling us he was still alive and they were still working on him.”

Again faith got them through, Marlan’s most lasting problem being trouble with his right arm and hand.

Certainly, it isn’t perfect, but considering that he lingered on death’s door, his recovery was remarkable and the family hoped all there problems were behind them.

They weren’t.

Today Maurice Robinson has another son, Marcel, in a battle with sickle cell anemia, a disease from which 70,000 people suffer and from which there is no cure. He has fought sickle cell all of his life, but while there is no cure, the symptoms and complications can be helped through blood and bone marrow transplants.

The National Institute of Health (NIH) is researching new techniques to reduce the toxicities of the bone marrow transplantation procedures for patients with severe congenital anemia, and that is where Marcel is now with his wife, Tiffany, preparing to receive a bone marrow transplant from his mother, Roselle.

While not a perfect match, Roselle is a 7 and that’s as close as anyone in the family comes. Through the generosity of her employer, Mylan Pharmaceutical, she is able to spend the necessary time in Washington, D.C., preparing for the transplant.

As for Marcel, he and wife Tiffany must spend 3 to 5 months at the facility and living within 20 miles of it.

This is terribly costly, as they are on unpaid leaves from their jobs and have their normal house payments and the like back in Morgantown in addition to expenses living in D.C.

“We have had just wonderful friends who are helping out,” Robinson said.

One of them is Laurie King of Morgantown, who has started a webpage soliciting donations, 100 percent of which will go to Marcel’s expenses. The goal is $10,000 and they already have raised more than $3,200.

“You do not like to ask people for money,” Mo Robinson admitted, “but people have just been so wonderful and caring.”

It is hard to imagine they would not be, and not just because this is the family of one of the greatest and most beloved players in WVU basketball history.

“I’d like to think they would do this for anyone in such a situation,” Robinson said.

Just the stress, strain and anxiety of this situation is as much as any man should have to endure when it comes to his children, but to add in the car accident and the shooting, it is difficult to understand how they have endured.

There are those who would tell you that in part it would come from the preparation of being an athlete, but Robinson says he’s not so sure that played a great role in it.

“There is nothing that can get you ready for something like we’ve had,” he said.

To contribute to the Robinsons, go to this website: https://www.giveforward.com/fundraiser/tnh2/heres-to-you-mr-mrs-robinson

Contact Bob Hertzel at bhertzel@hotmail.com or follow him on Twitter @bhertzel.

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