Shortly after a loss to Syracuse in 1991, doctors diagnosed Boston College safety Jay McGillis with leukemia, a disease that claimed his life seven months later. Along with family, friends and teammates, then-Boston College head coach Tom Coughlin stood by McGillis’ side during his brave battle with cancer. In the 20 years since Jay’s death, his mother, Pat, receives calls from Coughlin four times each year — Jay’s birthday, the day he died, Christmas and Thanksgiving — to keep their son’s memory alive. Rachel Nichols reports.
“He was always remembering us and I thought, ‘Wow, he is one special human being.’ He is. We just can’t say enough about him. He’s genuine. And, we are so thankful that we met Tom Coughlin, Judy (Coughlin’s wife) and his family, because they’ve just been wonderful to us.” — Pat McGillis
“I said, ‘Never stop fighting Jay, fight.’ And he said, ‘I will coach, I will.’ And that’s the spirit that he had. That’s the spirit of Jay McGillis.” – Tom Coughlin, on receiving the leukemia news from Jay over the phone
Thanksgiving is a holiday founded in gratitude and rooted in family. The O’Donnell family of Lowell, Mass. will gather to celebrate the day, marking a year of despair and determination, fear and recovery. Last autumn, a day after watching his son TJ wrestle his way to a world title and gold medal at the World Police and Fire games, Tod O’Donnell fell at home, suffering a brain bleed. He would emerge from a coma, and fight to learn to walk and talk again during a recovery that stretched on for months. Tod was carried back to his life on the power of the two words he had instilled in his wrestling sons: “No quit.” Tom Rinaldi reports.
“I held his hand. I got right up to his face, and I said, ‘Hey, don’t, you’re an O’Donnell, we don’t quit.’” – TJ O’Donnell, on motivating his father during rehabilitation
“I was on death’s door. That was the motto that we had moved forward with: ‘No quit.’ You always keep moving forward, and you never move back.” – Tod O’Donnell, on the importance of the mantra
Eighteen-year old Anthony Starego is autistic, functioning at the level of a 10-year old. An avid Rutgers fan, he saw Scarlet Knights’ kicker Jeremy Ito kick the game-winning field goal against Louisville in 2006, inspiring him to be a kicker. Starego learned how to kick, and last month he earned the varsity kicking job for Brick (N.J.) High School, just in time to face intra-state powerhouse Toms River North. With the score 21-21 late in the fourth quarter, Starego booted the game-winning field goal. Tom Rinaldi reports on that magic moment, and Starego’s chance to connect with the man who started it all.
“If you’re a parent, let your kid be everything that he can be. Don’t live in fear. Live in hope. You just never know what a kid could achieve that you don’t expect.” – Ray Starego, Anthony’s father
“The kick helped prove to him that he can be an important and integral part of something, a meaningful part of something.” – Reylene Starego, Anthony’s mother, on the significance of the game-winning field goal
Believe was a word that Eric LeGrand used to motivate himself as a member of the Rutgers football team. It was a word that sustained him through a devastating injury that left him paralyzed. And, it is a word that he continues to live by and share with others as he fights toward his ultimate goal of being able to walk again. Tom Rinaldi follows the journey of a young man whose personal motto has become a public inspiration.
“You know, I believe God chose me to do this – to help other people out and inspire other people in their situations.” – Eric LeGrand
In the midst of Notre Dame’s football revival, Joseph Guthrie, an avid Notre Dame football fan, passed away. His children look back on the Notre Dame football memories they shared with their dad. Wright Thompson reports.