Tradition, Spirit, Honor is going to be a continuous running column that will focus on the traditions that exist at BYU along with the efforts taken by the football team to impact society off the field for various service projects and other honorable deeds.
One program that Bronco started at BYU was the "Thursday's Hero" program. Every Thursday the football team welcomes one of their heroes to join them at the practice and then honors them with gifts and praise at the end. Theses heroes may not be who people typically choose as a hero. But these are individuals who inspire us to do great things, and to take a look inward and realize what we can accomplish and who we can be regardless of circumstance.
This program's beginnings date back to a letter received from Coach Mendenhall by the father of a little boy named, Andrew Alley. At the time I believe Andrew was about 6. He had cancer in his brain stem and was not expected to live for more than a few months. Andrew's favorite thing in life was BYU Football! Andrew's father, Matthew Alley wrote a kind and moving letter to Bronco describing the situation and told him that he and Andrew would be coming to a game that fall and asked if Andrew could meet the players.
I still remember when coach read that letter to us in a team meeting before practice. He told us that they had put together a little gift bag for he and his family and shared with us that Andrew would be at practice and at the game on Saturday. I will never forget what a special day that was, not only for the Alley family, but for me as a players as well. It really helped me to put my life in perspective and realize that there may be days out there when practice is hard, or I was not getting the number of plays I wanted, whatever it was, it didn't matter. Here was a kid who daily was fighting for life, and yet when you saw him his face was just beaming with happiness and joy.
I know the team was touched and I know Bronco was touched. Since then there have been countless Thursday Heroes who have come to practice and touched our team. One of my favorite parts about the night is when we ask them to sign our coveted flag. The "Y" flag that we carry with us on the field has a deep significance to the players, and every player who has accepted the challenge under Coach Mendenhall has signed that flag. When we ask these heroes to add their names, they become a part of us, a part of something bigger than any one individual.
I hope you will enjoy reading about these special individuals as the season progresses. Maybe, just maybe, they will touch your lives as much as they touch the lives of the BYU Cougars.
For a look back at one of last year's Heroes, look at this...
BYU Football Thursday's Hero - Drae Endicott (via byudrae)