The Odds Against Antonio Dixon

Antonio Dixon
Former Washington Times colleague David Elfin has written a fabulous piece for AOL’s NFL Fanhouse about Philadelphia Eagles defensive tackle Antonio Dixon. This is a great football story that has as much if not more going for it than that of Baltimore Ravens tackle Michael Oher, as chronicled in the book and movie, “The Blind Side.”

A few excerpts from Elfin’s story about Dixon:
• Dixon’s father was sentenced to 25 years in prison while Dixon was only 3 years old
• Dixon and his four siblings spent years in homeless shelters while growing up
• He estimates he went to some 15 elementary schools and never learned to read

This is an inspirational story about perseverance and overcoming odds no child or teen should ever have to face. Read the full story here: Antonio Dixon Has Beaten Longest Odds.

An Inspiring Struggle for a Coach and a Team

We’ve been avoiding posting inspirational stories here that have a sports connection. We seem to have a lot of them lately. But you can’t deny some of the incredibly courageous and inspiring events that often, seemingly, take place during athletic competitions. Just this past Saturday, Nov. 27, we saw yet another example during a high school cross-country race held in Fresno, California. Holland Reynolds of San Francisco University High School willed herself to finish a race after collapsing with little more than five yards to go to the finish line.

The video of her, which is now getting aired on TV stations across the country and is being seen on YouTube, shows her struggling to even remain upright not far from the finish line. And this wasn’t any ordinary cross-country race; this was a race that had layers of meaning to it. It was the last cross-country meet of the year for Holland and her school. It was a meet that would determine the state championship. And it was the last race her coach, Jim Tracy, would be coaching. He was recently diagnosed with ALS, or Amyotrophic lateral sclerosis — more commonly known as Lou Gehrig’s disease — and his health and ability to even walk is declining quickly.

Holland hit the wall, as they say in racing. She went down completely, sprawling on the ground, looking. Yet she struggled to her knees as an official rushed over to check on her. The official held back, not giving her any help. If he had even reached out to touch her, she would have been disqualified from the race. He leaned over, speaking with her, and watched her along with everyone else present in the finish area, crawl slowly as runner after runner breezed over the finish line. Holland finally reached the finish line and quickly was scooped up into the arms of race officials, who carried her off to assist her. She finished the race and earned enough points for her team to help them win the championship. And as a result, Coach Tracy earned his 8th division title, setting a state record.

Holland said that when she collapsed, she remembered being confused. But she also told ABC News that she thought about “just finishing. And finishing for Jim. And for my team, ultimately. The entire season, my team and I just really wanted to perform well for Jim, and leave him in his last cross-country season with something to remember.”

That she did. Not only will her coach not forget this finish, but neither will anyone who watches it.

Joe Beene’s Inspiration: A Quadriplegic’s Story

Joe Beene (Photo courtesy Joe Beene)

It was 10 years ago, exactly, that Joe Beene’s world changed instantaneously. On Nov. 8, 2000, Joe was a 17-year-old, playing linebacker for his Permian High School football team in Odessa, Texas.

It was their final practice of the year before they were to meet their arch-rivals from across town, Odessa High School. Joe, a senior, made what seemed like a routine tackle. But the tackle was anything but routine. “I was tackling somebody, and my neck went back,” said Joe in a sort of matter-of-fact manner.

He remembers the time immediately after the tackle very well. “I stopped breathing. I was awake. I was wondering what was going on — you know, you can’t breathe.”

He knew something was wrong, but all he could do was lie there. “I couldn’t speak, but with my eyes I was saying, ‘Do something! Do something!’ I went without air for seven minutes. I should be dead or brain dead. But God kept me alive.”

Joe says he didn’t realize right away the seriousness of what had happened, “not until about three days later, after surgery. They fused C1 and C2 [vertebrae] together. I woke up after surgery and my dad told me what happened; I started crying — because I was thankful that God kept me alive and I wasn’t brain dead.”

What happened to Joe 10 years ago on that tackle left him paralyzed from the neck down. But what happened to Joe 10 years ago also turned his life on a path that led him closer to God and into a powerful relationship with Jesus. In the decade that’s gone by since his injury, he’s become an ordained minister, and he just got his degree this summer from the University of Texas of the Permian Basin, where he majored in history and minored in business.

“It was amazing,” said Joe about the injury. “I should have died; I should have been brain dead.”

But he wasn’t. What overwhelmed Joe wasn’t the devastating injury, “it was that God had kept me alive for that long; maybe he had given me another chance at life. I started crying because I was thankful for that.”

Joe takes a larger view of the accident that left him a quadriplegic: “Everyone goes through hard things. It’s not like I’m an exception to the rule.”

We wanted to know — did he have strong faith before the injury? His answer was Continue reading “Joe Beene’s Inspiration: A Quadriplegic’s Story”

InspiredON by Wisconsin … and a Young Boy

Wonderful piece that ESPN did on a young boy, 6-year-old Jaxson Hinkens, who had cancer, neuroblastoma, and who idolized the Wisconsin Badgers football team.

When diagnosed 14 months ago, Jaxson was given a 50-50 chance of living. Devastating news for any family. His parents reached out to Wisconsin for their son and requested a helmet for Jaxson from the team. What they all got in return was so much more. Watch the video: Jaxson & Wisconsin.

John Cappelletti’s Heisman Trophy Speech

InspiredON by Family — Usually it’s the top athletes who inspire boys to dream big dreams of being the star on the field and doing great things. This story flips that notion upside down. This time it’s an 11-year-old boy, stricken with cancer, who inspired his older brother, Heisman Trophy winner John Cappelletti. In 1973, in one of the most moving speeches in the history of college football’s top award, the Penn State running back dedicated the trophy to his 11-year-old brother, Joey, who was battling leukemia. What follows are some excerpts from his acceptance speech that night, and a video highlight of the evening.

John Cappelletti, from direct transcripts of the speech:

“My mother and my father, there isn’t a greater couple around. Continue reading “John Cappelletti’s Heisman Trophy Speech”

A Gift of Life

InspiredON by Family — On a day in which star San Diego Chargers running back Ladainian Tomlinson scored two rushing touchdowns to move into third place on the all-time TD list, and on the same day surpass Pittsburgh’s Franco Harris and Buffalo’s Thurman Thomas to move into 12th place on the NFL’s all-time rushing list, something interesting happened before Tomlinson set foot on the field. It was a gift from his wife, LaTorsha, that served as a source of inspiration. Read all the details in Fanhouse senior NFL writer Nancy Gay’s captivating story: Unexpected Gift Rejuvenates Tomlinson.