Saturday 18 November 2017

American Football: Brock's long walk offers hope to all

Eamonn Sweeney

On Christmas Eve three years ago, the Mealer family of Wauseon, Ohio were on their way to midnight Mass when a 90-year-old driver went through a stop sign and collided with their car. David Mealer was killed as was Hollis Richer, the 17-year-old girlfriend of his son Elliott. Elliott's brother Brock suffered spinal cord injuries which paralysed him from the waist down. Doctors told him there was only a one per cent chance of him ever walking again.

One per cent was enough to make Brock Mealer hope. Elliott Mealer is a defensive lineman with the University of Michigan American football team and the college's strength and conditioning coaches worked with Brock as he began his apparently impossible journey to recovery.

Last Saturday, in front of 113,090 at Michigan Stadium, Ann Arbor, 25-year-old Brock Mealer, after three years of the most gruelling physical therapy, walked out on to the field, with the aid of two sticks, before Michigan's game against Connecticut which they won 30-10.

He had, he said, prayed every night that he would walk again and believed that David and Hollis were looking down from heaven at him as he journeyed the 200 yards to the centre of the pitch. "This is the start of a new chapter. The next chapter is getting rid of one cane, and getting rid of the other cane."

What can you say about a man like that? Except that his story is worth telling, and worth thinking about this Sunday morning. Because we all need a bit of inspiration from time to time. And it's the Brock Mealers of this world who let us know just what is possible. Sometimes this life is miraculous.

Sunday Independent

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