Rudy is best known as the former football player for the University of Notre Dame and the inspiration for the motion picture Rudy. The movie chronicles how Rudy overcame obstacles and rejection to achieve his dream of playing for the legendary team.
At the event guests enjoyed chatting one on one with Rudy and received autographed copies of his book, Rudy: My Story. The soiree, led by Regions Sr. VP, Entertainment & Sports Division Lisa Harless, was held at the bank’s Nashville office on Division Street. Rudy is currently on a tour promoting the new book which details the inspiration behind the film.
I confess, there were others in that room that knew more about Rudy’s story than I did, but on that day it didn’t matter. From our initial handshake I was inspired by his presence. I suddenly had the urge to go out and do something great. Some people are described as “lighting up a room” when they enter, but Rudy opens floodgates of inspiration like few others.
Rudy continued sharing stories during lunch in the bank conference room. “When God’s plan works, it’s powerful,” he told the crowd. “At the same time, we know that plan is not about football and it’s not about Notre Dame. We use football as a metaphor, of course, and Notre Dame as the canvas.”
Rudy has shared many experiences with attorney Rusty Jones, who serves as Vice Chairman of the Rudy Foundation’s Board of Directors. “One of the greatest experiences I had was walking down the tunnel of the Tennessee game with Rusty Jones,” said Rudy. “As we were walking, I turned to Rusty and said, ‘you alright brother?’ and Rusty said, ‘This is the greatest moment of my life, Rudy.’”
Rudy’s many interesting stories included how he met Rusty, the time he was kicked off the field at a USC game, and how his tour of the Pentagon was interrupted by a call from the President to the Commodore guiding his visit.
“In the struggles God gives us, there’s a blessing,” Rudy continued. “You’ve got to recognize it so you can pass it on to help people. It’s all about getting hit hard and coming back.” He shared his belief of hard work over entitlement, the importance of respect, and his love for Country Music, noting the mutual respect among members of our industry.
He was quick to point out that he is inspired by stories of people overcoming obstacles, whether it’s about a Country singer or an athlete. “My dad always inspired me and here’s why,” he said. “Not because he was a great achiever in monetary means but because he was a great achiever in life.
“We have a great country. We are not going to fail. This country is not going to go down the tubes like they say. We have some major issues but we always come back because the American Dream is real.”
Now, that’s a dose of Rudy we all needed to hear.