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Two twenty somethings make a positive impact

Published January 21. 2019 11:43AM

Young adults have had their share of negative press in recent times.

A 2013 Time magazine cover story titled “The Me Me Me Generation” stated that “Millennials are lazy, entitled, narcissists who still live with their parents.”

That negative profile, however, was debunked last week by two 20-something young men representing college and pro football.

Christian McCaffrey, 22, a superstar running back for the Carolina Panthers, learned solid values from his parents. His father Ed, a tremendous college player at Stanford and then for the Denver Broncos, is a product of the Lehigh Valley, having begun a stellar competitive career at Allentown Central Catholic.

Last week, we learned that his son Christian has teamed with NFL Salute to Service partner USAA and the Wounded Warrior Project to send a Gulf War veteran and his wife to the Super Bowl in Atlanta. Sgt. Alex Somerson, a resident of Mooresville, North Carolina, served from 2004-2009 and was twice deployed to Iraq in support of Operation Iraqi Freedom. Upon returning home, Alex was diagnosed with post-traumatic stress disorder and has become involved with Wounded Warrior Project.

Tyler Trent, our second inspiration, was not a player but a superfan of Purdue football. On Jan. 1, he lost a four-year battle against a rare bone cancer.

When Trent entered Purdue in the fall of 2017, he was undergoing chemotherapy. His positive attitude and determination to live every day to the fullest inspired the Boilermakers’ football players who named him team captain last season.

Before he died three weeks ago, Trent earned an associate degree from Purdue in computer information technology. Last year, Purdue created a scholarship — the Tyler Trent Courage and Resilience Award — for an undergraduate who has encountered adversity while pursuing a college degree. Trent was also awarded Disney’s Wide World of Sports Spirit Award, given annually to college football’s most inspirational individual or team.

Last week, the Clemson Tigers football team visited the White House and President Donald Trump after winning their second national championship in three years. Head coach Dabo Swinney told how Trent had been a daily inspiration to his team during their championship run.

The Clemson coach quoted from a season-ending message Trent had penned on ‘gratitude’. Written about his beloved Purdue team which had upset No. 2 ranked Ohio State a few weeks earlier, Trent’s inspirational words quickly went viral.

“Though I am in hospice care and have to wake up every morning knowing that the day might be my last, I still have a choice to make, to make that day the best it can be,” he wrote. “Yet, isn’t that a choice we all have every day? After all, nobody knows the amount of days we have left.

“Some could say we are all in hospice to a certain degree. So why don’t we act like it?

“Where is your gratitude? With Christmas coming up, what are you thankful for? I had to write my will recently, and I’m just thankful I can give my family Christmas presents, maybe even for one last time. Let’s not forget that my doctors gave me three months to live almost two-and-a-half months ago. So why can’t we live grateful lives? Why can’t we make every day count like it’s the last?’

“So for this team and all you guys moving on and even the guys coming back, that’s what I would say, is go live and be great today, in order for your someday to become reality, you just got to be your best today.”

Notre Dame’s legendary George Gipp — of ‘Win one for the Gipper’ fame — couldn’t have delivered a more motivational message that encapsulates quality of life.

By JIM ZBICK | editor@tnonline.com

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