This story isn't about football. It's about the human need each and every one of us has to make a difference, to touch a heart, to bring a smile to a face. This is a story of one person having a problem and someone else noticing, offering to help, and finding ways to make a difference beyond the initial need.
There are people all around us who need a helping hand at times... we can simply go about our lives in a blur or we can follow this example.
As rain started to fall on campus at the University of Alabama, Crimson Tide quarterback AJ McCarron saw a fellow student trying in vain to hail a bus.
“We had gotten done with practice, and I saw two buses starting to pull away,” McCarron recalled. “I saw A.J., and I could tell he had some type of disorder. And he tried to raise his hand at the two buses and they just pulled off. It was starting to rain and I just felt bad.”
The “A.J.” that McCarron is referring to is Alabama student A.J. Starr. Starr has cerebral palsy. He was diagnosed with the central motor dysfunction after the umbilical cord inadvertently got wrapped around his neck prior to his birth.
“I heard someone say, ‘hey man, do you need a ride?’” Starr said. “As I got closer, I’m like, ‘that’s A.J. McCarron.”
The two A.J.’s became fast friends.
“Having cerebral palsy… It’s kind of hard to go out into the real world and sort of meet people,” Starr told Alabama’s 13.
After recalling seeing Starr watch the Tide practice through cracks in the fence — even in inclement weather — McCarron wanted to find a way to get him involved with the program.
“I called Joe Pannunzio, who’s kind of director of our football operations and I told him the story and I said, ‘Is there any way we can get him a job here?,’” McCarron said. “He called me back the next day and was like, ‘he’s going to help in the equipment room getting all the stuff ready for the games and doing laundry.’”
Starr was now an official part of the Alabama football program.
“I was so excited,” he recalled. “Now I get to be around the football players, and just interacting with all the guys. I’m so thankful for all AJ and this organization have done for me.”
But if you ask McCarron, Starr has done much more to inspire the Alabama players than they ever could have done for him.
“Here’s a kid who’s been through all these obstacles and he still wakes up smiling every day and ready to go to work,” McCarron said. “I feel like he’s taught me more — given me more than I could have ever given him.”
“Every time I come here, no matter how bad my day is, or what I may go through with my challenges, when I come here it goes out the window,” Starr said. “I’m probably the happiest man on this planet.”
What would the world look like at the end of 2014 if each of us reached out to someone each week? Will you join me?
(reprinted from YellowHammer newsletter http://yellowhammernews.com/faithandculture/must-see-remarkably-inspirational-friendship-aj-mccarron-aj-starr/)