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A basketball card, a decision, and making a difference


Jimmy and Cathy Mahan have been long time friends of Crossnore. After hearing about Crossnore through a friend that worked there, the Mahans soon toured our Avery County campus and fell in love with our work and mission. “We just kept looking at each other [during the tour],” Jimmy said. “Like, is this real? This is full of so much of the spirit of what we talk about all the time!” Soon, Jimmy quit his job and the couple became Cottage Parents on our mountain campus, and spent four years hands-on, loving and caring for our children.

A lifelong hobby.

Jimmy’s family’s foundation has been an incredibly generous donor to Crossnore through the years, and recently, something pretty amazing happened, and Jimmy and Cathy decided to give even more.

Jimmy is an avid collector of sports memorabilia and especially loves sports card collecting. Jimmy recollects that he started collecting and trading cards “as a chubby eight-year-old” and has never stopped. As an avid sports fan and history major, he says it’s the perfect hobby. “The card industry has undergone many changes over the years,” he says, “and is now a huge, massive industry that includes autographed cards and pieces of memorabilia – much different than when I was young.” But still fun. And still makes him feel like that eight-year-old kid that got so much joy out of sorting, trading, and talking cards.

An unexpected pick.

Recently, Jimmy pulled an incredibly valuable and rare card out of a 2019 Panini Prizm Draft Picks pack. It was an autographed 1/1 Zion Williamson and RJ Barrett. Jimmy knew what he had when he pulled the card, and his reaction was priceless.

The card was valuable. But the more Jimmy thought about getting more stuff or more money, it just didn’t feel right. “I have been collecting for 35 years,” Jimmy says, “I have more great cards and stuff from the sports world than I ever thought I would. And as I thought of this card, its value, its unique characteristics, I thought it was a great story. But I also thought that the end of the story is important. And ‘Jimmy gets more stuff’ is not the best end to the tale.”

An amazing decision.

So Jimmy and Cathy talked about it, and both decided to auction off the card on Ebay and to donate the proceeds to Crossnore. The auction ended last Wednesday, and the card sold for $15,200.79. 

Jimmy and Cathy say they not only love the children and mission of Crossnore, but love the people here who help the kids. They are inspired by all the different types of people that serve the children with such passion and resolve. “From the top down. EVERYONE [at Crossnore] is a friend for life.” The Mahans still have regular contact with some of their “Crossnore kids,” including two who come home to their house for college breaks and holidays.

They regularly tell everyone they come in contact with about Crossnore and are always sending young people they encounter to interview to work here. “Anyone we meet that has a heart for that kind of work, I pull aside and talk to about Crossnore,” says Jimmy. “We send some funds, but we hope this is another way we can help.”

Inspiring others.

Jimmy and Cathy’s decision has led to more than just a monetary donation to Crossnore. The story of the card, their giving, and the mission of Crossnore has spread far and wide thanks to social media, news programs, and podcasts. Jimmy has even received checks and donations from other collectors to further the work of Crossnore. Jimmy says it has been a joy to get to share about the card and Crossnore’s mission on some of his favorite card collecting podcasts.

Overall, Jimmy and Cathy hope this story continues to inspire others. Jimmy says, “I would love this whole experience to inspire someone else, some collector, to give. I want it to inspire others in this beautiful hobby to hold on to cards a little more loosely and to give to friends, random people, or donate to someone who needs it more than we collectors do. It’s an easy thing to focus on the ‘getting’ in this hobby, but MANY collectors do give A LOT back. I’ve had so many give to me so kindly and profusely. And that’s the kind of community I want to be a part of EVERY TIME.”

To learn more about the card, the story, and Jimmy’s passion for Crossnore, see the media stories below.

Triangle Kentucky Fan Hits Duke Jackpot with $15k Signed Card, Donates It All to Children’s Home – ABC 11 News

Kentucky Fan Gets Big Payoff from Rare Duke Card. Here’s What He Did With It. – Lexington Herald Leader

Collector Pulls $15,000 Zion Williamson, R.J. Barrett Autograph Card, Selling for Charity – Beckett.com

Jimmy talking about “The Right Way for the Story to End” on Youtube

Ebay Listing (ended) for Card