When Life Throws You Footballs

By Brooke Rucker
Distinguished Young Woman of Georgia and the Distinguished Young Woman of America for 2014

 

USA Children’s and Women’s Hospital visit with Senior Bowl players

Life has a way of throwing curve balls at you. The one it threw at me happened to be in the shape of a football. Never have I ever been a sports enthusiast, but the GoDaddy Bowl and the Senior Bowl had a different plan in mind.

I had no way of predicting what to expect when attending these two events. What I ended up with was something better than I had ever imagined. I don’t know how close you’ve ever gotten to college football players, but let me tell you, they are huge! I won’t lie, I was kind of star struck, especially at the Senior Bowl.

However, at both events, when I had the chance to visit the USA Women’s and Children’s Hospital with the teams, it was clear that there was more to these guys than their muscles. I find people, myself included, always getting tied up in their own hectic life styles and forgetting to turn an eye to others around who might be in need. Nothing makes you more aware of other’s struggles than going to the source.

Meeting these strong children who are each fighting their own war against their diagnoses is inspiring to say the least. Even more inspiring was getting to watch the football players interacting with these kids. To see all competiveness be put aside and focused on making a positive impact on the kids brought a huge smile to my face. It was a well needed reminder of how connected we all are to one another and just how far an act of kindness can go.

Brooke with Mobile Mayor Sandy Stimpson and Danica Patrick

Another one of my favorite moments from these two events would of course have to be getting to participate in the coin toss for the GoDaddy Bowl. Meeting Danica Patrick could not have been more perfect. She’s a wonderful example of the women out there making a stand in a “man’s world”. I had never been surrounded by so many cameras in my life. They literally blocked out the whole view of the crowd. The best word to describe it would have to be surreal. And just in case you were curious, yes, Danica is super nice!

Talking to the football players throughout my time there really showed me just how normal they are. We always make up these assumptions in our heads—that children are weak, athletes are rude, celebrities are conceited—and that these people have no relation to us whatsoever. In reality, we have more in common than we realize. The great thing about humans is that we all crave and need the support of one another. Looking back now, I think that the reason I’ve never taken interest in sports is because I always believed it had nothing to do with me. The two Bowls gave me a completely different perspective, though. I actually found myself enjoying the games and cheering along with the rest of the crowd. Who knows? Maybe there’s hope for me in the sports world after all.

2015 Senior Bowl

 
Brooke Rucker is a college freshman at Florida State University in Tallahassee, Florida majoring in Dance. Originally from Cartersville, Georgia, Brooke was a participant in the Distinguished Young Women program and was selected as the Distinguished Young Woman of Georgia for 2014 and the Distinguished Young Woman of America for 2014. Learn more about Brooke here!

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