I love movies, especially movies with a message. Some of my favorites are football movies, such as Rudy. The movie follows the life and story of Rudy Ruettiger, a defensive corner back for the Fighting Irish of Norte Dame, played by Sean Austin. Ruettiger had a dream to play for the Notre Dame Football team, despite his undersized stature.
Rudy was on the scout team his entire college career, until the last game of the season, when after the closing kickoff and the second (and final) play, he sacked the opposing quarterback, subsequently resulting in gleeful teammates carrying Ruettiger off the field — only second player in Norte Dame history to receive this honor.
I also love the story of Vince Papale, which inspired the movie Invincible with Mark Wahlberg. The Philadelphia Eagles player and hometown boy eventually made the team; thereby becoming, at age 30, the oldest rookie in the history of the NFL to play without the benefit of college football experience.
Movies and Real Life Inspirations at Home
These movies seem larger than life to most people. As for me, I only have to look in the eyes of my eldest son for inspiration; there is no Hollywood movie, or tragic love story behind those beautiful eyes. However, in my life the story rings truly as inspiring and poetic as any blockbuster movies put out by Hollywood.
William Madison Grinnan Jr. began his football career 22 years ago at the age of 6, finally old enough and mentally tough enough to enter the program. Many years of doctors’ physicals, practices, snack bar duty, cookie dough fundraisers welcomed him to his senior year in high school (which seemed to happen almost overnight) in Southern California.
Billy, as his coaches would call him, became the starting corner back. Quick and extremely “coachable” they said. At the time, he was:
- The only player with authority to change up the defense on the field based on how he saw the opposing offense line up.
- One of the fastest sprinters in the 100 year history of the high school, and nicknamed “white lightning” by his fellow athletes, as much for his quickness as his white “Smokey and the Bandit” type Trans Am he drove to school every day.
- There wasn’t a quarterback that completed a pass on his side of the field, including Matt Leinart 2004 Heisman trophy winner.
His team went on to an undefeated season, that “Cinderella year”. His high school football coaches always ended the season with awards for outstanding players, voted on by their fellow teammates. Billy received votes in many categories by his teammates, so coaches decided to give the “Coaches Award” award for the first time. This award exemplifies a true team player — one of inspiration and dedication.
The euphoria from his successes on the field and in the classroom was tempered by a devastating revelation a few short months later. As he was entering his college football program, doctors discovered a congenital heart defect, the diagnosis: coarctation of the aorta. This would require angioplasty and that surgeons place a stent in his heart to open up the narrow space and restore proper blood flow. Unbeknownst to him, this condition had plagued him his entire life – making physical activity and achieving athletic excellence harder for him to achieve than for other boys.
How did this young man compete at this elite level for so long? And how did he pass so many sports physicals?
I can only assume a few things:
- Many people overcome obstacles
- Their bodies and minds compensate for what they may lack
- Sharing this story may serve as a wakeup call for a parent whose child may unknowingly be just one game away from a devastating end to a beautiful life.
My son’s perseverance and dedication to achieve his goals – just like the athletes in the movies – inspires me each and everyday. Gazing into those beautiful eyes for one more day, each day, blesses me beyond words. I hope to pay it forward and help other parents receive the same blessings I have. I want them to bask in the glory of the proverbial “one more day” with their loved ones.
How will I do that?
This question eventually led me to launch the Pediatric Heart Association. An organization dedicated to advocating for proper health screenings for young athletes and committing to saving lives. How would these health screenings save lives? By catching a potentially fatal condition before it has the opportunity to turn adventure into darkness and joy into weeping. Get your child athlete properly checked out and screened for congenital (silent) heart defects. If they collapse, you’re too late.
About the Author, Catherine Grinnan Twitter Handle @cathygrinnan
Catherine Grinnan is your sassy everyday mother of 8, business woman and blogger living life at warp speed. Catherine has a charity called Pediatric Heart Association that was formed because of the life experience of having 3 children born with Congenitial Heart Defect. Catherine and her daughter, Hannah, speak on a regular basis about heart disease, organ donation and how love can get you through anything. Catherine’s favorite past times are mani/pedis, her grandchildren, and learning new cheers that her 3 teenage daughters are practicing. You can contact Catherine through LinkedIN. Come back at visit Catherine at RockScar Love where she will be blogging bi-weekly!
Catherine is a huge organ donation advocate because her daugther received a heart transplant at 11 days old. Support her fight for more organ donors by purchasing our Real Men Are Organ Donors shirt. 15% of the purchase goes to organ donation based charities.