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Making a difference until the end….

As Super Bowl 50 approaches, one of the stories that has received national attention is that of Carolina Panthers’ special teams coach Bruce DeHaven. Bruce, who has an incurable form of prostate cancer, but also an incurable zest for continuing to do what he loves, told CBS news, nobody gets out of this thing alive, but if he can get out with a Super Bowl ring… “That is way better!”
 
Bruce is the sort of ‘sports hero’ that inspires people. The ability for a sports figure to be like Bruce in the face of such a personal struggle, has inspired countless people, and in many cases has led to significant fund and awareness raising activities. Some of the other amazing stories that come to mind include:
 
Lauren Hill, who took her battle with a brain tumor onto the basketball court, and into the hearts of many. Lauren was determined to fulfill her dream of playing college basketball, and Mount St. Joseph University in Cincinnati made it happen by working with the NCAA to move up the opening game of its schedule, to give her a chance to play. Lauren went on to help raise $1.4 million for pediatric cancer research with the nonprofit group ‘The Cure Starts Now’. She died at 19. The organization labeled her a “worldwide inspiration.”
 
Then there is the story of Eric Shanteau, an American swimmer who competed in the 2012 United States Olympic team, and received a gold medal as a member of the 4×100-meter medley relay team. But this was not Shanteau’s first shot at the Olympics. In 2008 he placed second in the 200-meter breaststroke at the U.S. Olympic Swimming Trials, earning himself a spot on the team to compete in Beijing. Shockingly, one week before his event, the 24-year-old was diagnosed with testicular cancer. With the inspiration from his dad, a cancer survivor himself, Shanteau still chose to compete. “You have cancer. It doesn’t have you,” Shanteau recalled of the first things his dad told him. “Cancer is one of those things that can control your life if you let it.” The American swimmer missed the finals by a mere 0.13 seconds and posted a personal best time, despite having cancer. Shanteau is now cancer free and is involved with The LIVESTRONG Foundation where he created his own event called ‘Swim for Your Life’ to promote cancer awareness.
 
Lastly, we are reminded by the Panthers coach of yet another sports figure who inspired a generation “When Lou Gehrig said, ‘I feel like I’m the luckiest guy in the world,’ I can understand what he meant,” Bruce said. Bruce went on to say “Yes the game still matters!”
 
…And so because of these stories and countless like them, we can all be inspired, as we too decide how to play out the stories that help define our own lives.

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