Becoming a hero is something that in many cases is a matter of being in the right place at the right time and being quick with your thoughts and actions. That fact is what makes professional athletes people who are primed to become heroes. Of course many look up to them for their heroic acts while in competition for instance when I was a kid Michael Jordan was my hero and I am not alone in that, many people look up to athletes and try to emulate their greatness. Sometimes though those athletes do something in their private lives that tarnish that image which led to the popular Charles Barkley ad back in the 90’s that stated “I am not a role model!” Seen here:
But there are those moments when the crowds are not there and the cameras are not on when these athletes do something extraordinary that puts them on a different level where the word hero is truly a label they deserve. Over the course of history in sports there have been many true heroes from people like Ted Williams who left his sport to fight in World War II to people like Roberto Clemente who died while flying to deliver aid to Nicaragua after a devastating earthquake. In this article I will shed light on five recent heroic acts and also of an event that happened in my hometown over Fathers Day weekend which will give all of you the chance to be a hero.
#5. Agata Mroz– Her story may not be one that many in the states are familiar with but one that will surely tug on your heart-strings. Mroz was one of Poland’s National Volleyball teams best players and she also played professionally in Europe. In 2007 Mroz retired from Volleyball due to a bone marrow disease and began to receive treatment which she would later stop due to her becoming pregnant. Her reasoning for stopping th treatment was to ensure that her child would live and because of that choice her daughter Liliana is now 7 years old. This heroic act of postponing treatment to save her child ultimately led to her illness getting worse and her immune system was so compromised at delivery she could not even hold her little girl. Agata would die at the age of 26, a little over a month after delivering her daughter.
#4 John Servati – The state of Alabama is full of sports heroes but for me this one stands out. John Servati was a true student athlete at Alabama compiling a 3.55 GPA in finance while also setting records in the pool as part of Alabama’s swim team. He would ultimately become a hero though out of the pool unfortunately in the last moments of his life. On April 28th, 2014 tornadoes ripped through the state of Alabama including one that hit Tuscaloosa where the University of Alabama is located. As the storm hit in Tuscaloosa Servati and his girlfriend Lauren Swann took shelter in their basement. As the storm intensified the walls of the basement collapsed around them causing them to be trapped. Servati used his size and strength to separate the walls and hold the retaining wall up just long enough for Swann to escape and as she did the wall collapsed on top of Servati ending his life.
#3 Jim Harbaugh – A story with a happy ending for the third of these recent stories. Of course most people know the name Jim Harbaugh either from his playing career at Michigan or the NFL or even his coaching career with the NFL’s 49ers or colleges Stanford and now Michigan. Well most people except for Christine Mowrer whom Harbaugh and director of football operations Jim Minick helped save on Michigan’s I94 on March 3rd. A snowstorm wreaked havoc that day and Harbaugh and Minick were en route to the airport when they were stopped in the storm. While stopped they saw the Jeep Grand Cherokee driven by Mowrer lose control rolling a couple of times before coming to a stop. Harbaugh and Minick rushed to the scene helping the driver and her passenger from the vehicle even administering first aid and covering the two in coats and blankets while also shielding the two from the wind with an umbrella until emergency crews arrived on the scene.
#2 Chevy Mikaele and Ben Langford – In November 2014, Chevy Mikaele and Ben Langford who play football at Eastern New Mexico University were attending bible study after practice when they heard the screams of John Reilly coming from outside the church. They rushed outside to find Reilly pinned underneath a truck he was working on. The truck had shifted and fell on top of him and was now crushing him. The two players joined by other church members proceeded to lift the 5000 pound vehicle off of the man saving his life.
#1 Pat Tillman – By now many of us know the story of Pat Tillman. Tillman was a star player at Arizona State who wound up playing in the NFL for the Arizona Cardinals. On the verge of signing a 3 year extension for around 3.5 million dollars Tillman decided to leave football in June of 2002 to serve in the War on Terror as an Army Ranger. He was inspired to do so because of the tragic events on September 11th, 2001. After serving two years as a Ranger, Tillman was killed by friendly fire on April 22nd, 2004 in the mountains of Afghanistan.
Now I bring you a story from my hometown which weighs heavy on my heart. On Father’s Day this past Sunday tragedy struck when 10-year-old Garrett Vadino, his father Todd (44) and family friend 14-year-old Carson Bonar lost their lives. The accident happened after the three had been kayaking in Lisbon, Ohio at Little Beavercreek. The accident happened as the two boys went to rinse off their shoes and as they did Garrett slipped and fell into the rapid water as did his friend Carson who was trying to save him. After both boys were in the water, Garrett’s father Todd dove in to save the boys but the water was too much and he drowned. Carson would be recovered and flown to a local hospital but was pronounced dead around 11 pm that evening. The search for Garrett continued well into the early morning even after police called off their search due to darkness thanks to two local Navy Seal reservists, Lisbon natives and brothers Adam and Luke Newbold. The brothers pulled Garrett out of the water around 2:45 am a mile down from where he first fell into the water. This story is what inspired me to look at real heroes in sports because the act of the Newbold brothers was truly heroic. But I also wanted to give each of you who may read this a chance for yourself to be a hero. Garrett had just finished the 4th grade at my Alma mater Leetonia, his father Todd was a teacher at nearby Salem High School and an award-winning teacher at that as next spring he was to receive an “All Star Educator” Award. A wife loses a husband and her son in the same day and is now left to raise 2 daughters and another son while trying to make sense of this tragic day. My heart knows Fathers Day tragedies all too well and that is why I need to spread this story to as many eyes as possible. Which brings me to how you too can be a hero. The link that will follow this article will take you to the GoFundMe Page started up to help the Vadino family in this time of need. If you would like to help you can follow the link and donate anything you would like from a $1 to anything you see fit. Any thing will help and this family needs your help right now. As for those of you that may be local on Sunday at 5:30 pm at Leetonia High School there will be a balloon release event in tribute of the Vadino family. The release event itself should take place at 6 pm. Please if you can give at all check out the link.