Courageous Heart

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Over the last few years, I’ve written several blogs and newsletters about the DeWalle family in St. Louis. Barb DeWalle is my favorite nurse from my tour of duty in Barnes Hospital and someone you may have read about in, “After This…”

One of my first conversations with Barb was about her son, Mark. We share a name (though a different spelling), we were teenagers at the same time and, most importantly, we both played (and loved) football. Mark was a member of the state champion Mehlville Panthers football team during his senior year of high school. Ain’t too many high school players can say that!

A few years after high school, Mark was diagnosed with a rare form of cancer. He took the chemo and fight head on and beat it…for a few years. When the recurrence of this cancer came back, Mark knew his chances of beating it again were slim. He put up a gallant effort, but ultimately made the decision to take control of his own life…and refused any further treatments.

Before he finally passed away in June of 07, he spoke with his family about leaving a legacy which meant so much to him: Mehlville football. Soon after his death, the Mark DeWalle Courageous Heart medal was created. This award is given every year to a Mehlville High School football player who shows great promise of overcoming adversity and keeping a positive attitude.

What’s more, Mark’s older brother, John, handed out the medal since he’s a Mehlville football coach. On Mark’s blog (which his mom, Barb, keeps updated) is his brother’s speech as the medal was awarded to this year’s recipient.

If you’re a former athlete, or the parent of a high school athlete, I hope you’ll take a look at:

and see some of the things John said-truer words could not have been spoken. Football is more than just a high school sport-it’s a teaching tool to help the development of young men, turning them from immature boys into adults who face challenges head on. And I’m one of these guys, too…

Scroll down to Barb’s post from Dec. 9 to see John’s speech and the announcement of the winner of the Mark DeWalle Courageous Heart medal.

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