Personal loss spurs Ickey Woods to action

FRESNO, Calif. (KFSN) -- Geico commercials thrust Elbert "Ickey" Woods back into the national spotlight. But the former NFL star and Fresno native has deflected the celebrity attention back to a foundation named in his son's honor.

For all the smiles Woods has generated with the shuffle and the Geico spots, his focus has become much more serious. Ickey's son Jovante was just 16 when he died at of an asthma attack at home August 14, 2010. Jovante was a prep player with promise.

Woods said, "We went through a couple of hospital stays with his asthma and he always came out of it and so I thought well, okay, this is another asthma episode. We'll go to the hospital. We'll be there for a couple of days. He'll be okay and that wasn't the case."

The Jovante Woods Foundation has raised over $100,000 through the Cincinnati Childrens Asthma Research Division.

Ickey explained, "We decided to start the foundation and put a face to this asthma."

Woods has now started a Valley push to raise asthma awareness.

A poker tournament benefit will take place October 10th at Club One Casino in Downtown Fresno.

Ickey said, "The fact that I can go and give back and not let families go through the pain and suffering that we went through is just heart-warming to me and hits me to the core."

About a fifth of Fresno County kids between 5 and 17 have asthma according to

Woods said, "The real alarming statistic that just blew me out of the water is that 11 people a day die from asthma."

Ickey Woods hoped to work closely with Valley's Children's Hospital in raising funds for asthma awareness.

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