In Mr. Smith Goes to Washington, one of Hollywood legend Jimmy Stewart's most iconic performances, the actor portrays a rookie U.S. Senator forced to launch into a filibuster that requires him to speak without ceasing for about 25 hours.
For the movie, Stewart never actually had to talk for that long, of course, but Christian Fauria is in the midst of doing so in real life. Starting at 2 p.m. Wednesday, the former Patriots tight end went on the air for his normal shift at Boston sports radio station WEEI. He won't sign off, however, until 3 p.m. Thursday, a full 25 hours later.
"My biggest concern is that I'll get slap-happy… more than usual," Fauria admitted with a laugh Tuesday. "I'm already hovering around an 8 [out of 10]. I think I'll burst through that barrier."
To understand why Fauria is attempting this marathon gab session, we need to rewind a few months.
Like his dad, Caleb Fauria is a tall (6-4), strong (240 pounds), athletic tight end who's currently in his senior year at Bishop Feehan High School (Attleboro, Mass.). Earlier this year, Caleb announced his intention to continue playing football next year at Christian's college alma mater, the University of Colorado. Prior to making his selection, Caleb had his pick of several top-flight college programs around the country.
During the spring, as he was in the middle of rehabilitating from knee surgery, Caleb and the Fauria family took recruiting visits to a number of schools that were interested in him. Caleb had lost about 30 pounds following his surgery, but was having trouble gaining his playing weight back. He also complained about blurry vision, needing to drink copious amounts of water, and having to use the bathroom with increasing frequency.
On a campus trip to the University of Iowa, Caleb's symptoms reached an unbearable peak. The Faurias went to see a doctor, who instructed them to get to Children's Hospital Boston immediately. Caleb, it turned out, was suffering from Type 1 diabetes.
"His numbers were through the roof. He was really in a dangerous zone, and we didn't know it," Christian continued. "Immediately thereafter, you go into a crash course on how to keep your son alive: Carb counting, sugar level, diet, insulin, when and how to inject, emergency kits… It was insane!"
Though Christian concedes there was a period of denial at first, for both of them, he says his son never feared that his football career would be over. In fact, a quick internet search gave them confidence that his condition wouldn't spell an end to football. Plenty of athletes compete despite having diabetes, including Ravens tight end Mark Andrews, who faced the Patriots just two weeks ago.
"It's overwhelming, but it's not a death sentence," added Christian. "You just have to become real disciplined, structured with your life: fitness, diet. I played with guys that had it. It was harder then, but a lot easier [to deal with] now."
That doesn't necessarily mean it's inexpensive, though. The day his son left the hospital, Christian went to a nearby pharmacy to pick up some necessary items. As he was standing in line, he overheard a disturbing argument between a married couple. The husband, it seemed,
was a diabetic, but they'd reached a point where they couldn't afford his insulin treatments. "What am I supposed to do? This keeps me alive," Christian overhead the man exclaim to the pharmacist. "There was no recourse for him at that time. He just left."
That motivated Christian to put into action an idea he'd long been mulling since he first watched a Jerry Lewis Telethon on TV. In Christian's version, he'd be on the radio for a full day, plus an extra hour at the start of his regularly-scheduled program to recap how the previous 24 hours went.
The goal? To raise $25,000 over those 25 hours, with proceeds benefitting insulin affordability awareness.
"And for kids who have it," added Christian, "to be surrounded by others who have it. Some money will go to camps for kids with diabetes."
In so doing, he also hopes to erase or at least mitigate any stigma that those with diabetes might feel.
Christian won't be alone in his marathon talk session. He'll have plenty of on-air company, including some of the biggest names in Boston sports. Larry Bird, Tom Brady, Bobby Orr, Tedy Bruschi, and Matt Hasselbeck are among those who'll make guest appearances during Fauria's 25-hour broadcast. And it won't all be sports talk. There'll be several segments that are not sports-related.
"I'll constantly need stimulation," Fauria explained, "so, changing [things up] every two hours will keep me alert. We want to put on a good show. We're trying to raise money, so we'll have kids, doctors… we want to be entertaining, thought-provoking, and we want people to chip in."
To do so, listeners can either make a direct contribution by visiting www.weei.com/25, or by bidding on any number of auction items that Fauria has acquired for the event. Text WEEI to 71760 to view a list of what's on offer.