Summarized by Rosemary Pollock
LDS Football Player Twins Give Service
SALT LAKE CITY, UTAH -- Kimball and Howard Christianson, 25, spent
the first week in April until the second week of June, volunteering
at Prem Dan, one of the houses established by Mother Teresa to care
for the neediest people in Calcutta, India. Kimball, a 6-foot 3,
210-pound safety for the University of Utah, faced a task far more
daunting than opposing any offensive lineman. He shaved dying men,
bathed indigent children, gave massages to the handicapped and
haircuts to the sick. "It was awhile before I dared to do that," he
said of putting a razor to someone else's skin.
Working alongside the Sisters of Mercy, the twin Mormon brothers,
served strangers who could not even say "thank you" in either of the
two languages the brothers understand. While serving a two-year
mission for the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints in
Hamburg and Munich during 1994 to 1996, the two brothers learned
German. "The sisters always say the only communication you need is
compassion and love," Kimball said, "and that's definitely true."
Howard and Kimball are both seniors at the University of Utah and are
two of nine siblings. Their older sister Marquita spent 18 months
serving a mission for the Mormon church working with Mother Teresa
and her order in India.
"Helping the less fortunate -- I think that's a really
nondenominational thing," Howard said. "We are larger than the
typical volunteers. That drew a lot of smiles. Being white, large and
football players did not allow them to blend in easily with the
people of Calcutta.
"My brother had a knee brace, and they were really in awe of that,"
Kimball recalled. "They would walk past us on the street and just
stop and look." Kimball and Howard taught English and general life
skills to refugees during the school year. They paid for their own
rooms at a Salvation Army boarding house and volunteered to sweep
floors with bundles of straw. Some people had a hard time
understanding why the two brothers would leave training a few weeks
early to fly halfway around the world.
"I don't think they have to necessarily conflict. You can be
competitive and play a football game as hard and competitively as you
can, and then leave that on the football field. I think that's what
most athletes do," Howard said. "I don't think we've done anything
"To be eating in a restaurant and have people looking in the
restaurant at you, and you're so healthy and strong and there you are
eating this great meal and they're hungry," he said, "you have a huge
sense of guilt."
Coach McBride had no reservations about the boys arriving late to
preseason camp, nor did he worry that Kimball arrived 15 pounds
underweight from Calcutta. "He's a real tenacious, competitive kid,
and he's smart," McBride said. "They are very serious about
everything they do." "They do things that are important. Everything
they do in their life has a purpose."
"I was really blessed to come from a wonderful family. I have access
to all the money I need, access to all the education I want. An
imbalance exists," Kimball said. "I really have a deep impression
and desire to correct that imbalance."
A double dose of compassion Twins put football aside, caring ahead
USA Today pg11C 11Oct00 S2
By Melissa Geschwind: USA Today