CANYON, Texas (KAMR/KCIT) – Announced by the University, “A beloved football champion and motivational speaker will be the headliner for West Texas A&M University’s A Celebration of Extraordinary Minds banquet on March 11.”
Rudy Ruettiger, whose gridiron experience at the University of Notre Dame inspired the film “Rudy,” will speak at the fundraiser for WT’s Center for Learning Disabilities, which begins at 6 p.m. March 11 in Legacy Hall in the Jack B. Kelley Student Center on the Canyon campus. Attendance to the sold-out, in-person event is limited to follow COVID-19 safety protocols, but tickets also are available to watch Ruettiger’s speech via livestream.
Tickets for the livestream speech, which will run from 6:45 to 8:15 p.m. March 11, are $50 or $100 for a family of four. To register, visit wtamu.edu/coem.
“We are honored that Rudy Ruettiger will share his inspirational and motivational message in support of our center. His captivating personality and powerful message of living with a learning disability leaves his audiences with a ‘Yes, I can’ approach to life,” said Dr. Michelle Simmons, Lanna Hatton Professor of Learning Disabilities and director of the Center for Learning Disabilities. “During these unprecedented times, we all need a little extra hope and inspiration. Who better to offer us a pep-talk than this memorable champion?”
The University said that Ruettiger previously was scheduled to speak April 2, 2020, but the event was postponed due to the pandemic. People who bought tickets for last year’s event will automatically receive livestream tickets for the March 11 speech.
Ruettiger, the son of an oil refinery worker and third of 14 children, achieved his dream of attending Notre Dame and playing football for the Fighting Irish. Before a crowd chanting his name, he sacked the quarterback in the last 27 seconds of the only play in the only game of his college football career. He is the only player in the school’s history to be carried off the field on his teammates’ shoulders.
Described by the university, “Today a highly sought-after motivational speaker, Ruettiger entertains international corporate audiences with a unique, passionate, and heartfelt style of communicating. He reaches school children, university students and professional athletes with the same enthusiasm, portraying the human spirit that comes from his personal experiences of adversity and triumph.”
Ruettiger has appeared on various high-profile nationally televised talk shows and radio shows and spoke at the White House during the presidencies of George W. Bush and Bill Clinton.
The Center for Learning Disabilities was established with the aim to meet the needs of students with learning disabilities and their parents, as well as assisting teachers in understanding disabilities and possible strategies to help students cope and learn in the classroom.
“Funds raised at events like A Celebration of Extraordinary Minds allow us to support students, parents and educators to overcome the struggles associated with dyslexia, dysgraphia, dyscalculia and ADHD,” said Puff Niegos, Center for Learning Disabilities founder. “Our community’s support is instrumental to help us meet our goal of helping people around the Panhandle meet their educational goals.”
WT’s claimed that the commitment to serving students is central to the University’s long-term plan, WT 125: From the Panhandle to the World.
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