- TOP PLAYERSOffensePABLO S. TORRE | August 20, 2012
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Frank Deford's introductory essay ("A Little Lower than the Angels," Dec. 21) and the profiles of the eight caring athletes were genuinely inspiring. Their lives are sermons in themselves. Thanks for the boost.
You are to be congratulated for taking the initiative in starting this salute to athletes who care about more than their salaries and themselves. I would encourage you to make it an annual event.
As a parent, coach and educator who seeks to teach sportsmanship rather than gamesmanship, I was heartened by the stories of your Sportsmen and Sportswomen. Dale Murphy's comment—"But to serve one's fellow man is to serve the Lord, and to serve is perfect freedom"—will be my motto for 1988.
Of special interest to me was the story about Bob Bourne and his family. I have been a physical educator for 19 years and had the privilege of working with Bourne's son Jeff when he attended the Forest Park Elementary School on Long Island, N.Y., in 1986 and '87. Jeff was an active participant in all of our programs, including swimming and recreational sports. His tenacity and courage helped him overcome a disability (spina bifida) that could have left him confined to a wheelchair. When he walked through the school as part of his prescribed daily exercise routine, his beaming smile, described in your article, lifted everyone.
In addition, Jeff represented our school district at the 1987 New York State Games for the Physically Challenged. He collected three medals, in the slalom walk, shot put and discus.
One addition to your group might have been Rick Hansen, the young Canadian who traveled around the world in his wheelchair—covering a distance equal to the circumference of the globe—to raise money for the study of spinal cord injuries as well as for rehabilitation services and wheelchair sports. His desire and bravery were an inspiration to handicapped people and made us all aware that there are genuine heroes whom young people can look up to.
THE WRESTLING PADRE
Rick Reilly's A Ring and a Prayer was a remarkable story about a remarkable man. As I was reading it on Christmas Eve, I couldn't help but think about the gifts that my children were about to receive. I realized that Father Gutierrez's kids would gladly trade all of them for a chicken dinner. Please let me know where to send a contribution so that I can make a small gesture to help the good padre realize his Cuidad de los Cachorros.