The phrase "We Will Win" has meant a lot to Tom Kirchhoff and Adam Breneman during difficult times. Find out what "We Will Win" means to Tom and Adam and how it has motivated Tom while he fights ALS and Adam as he came back from a devastating knee injury.
Tom Kirchhoff (from summer 2012):
The term We Will Win came out of a conversation I had with my lifelong best friend Mike McElrath. Mike and I became friends at age 8 while playing football for the West Shore Vikings. We were inseparable as we grew up and both had a burning passion for football. I was always the Quarterback and Mike was a Receiver. We played together through High School and had a lot of success. Mike went on to West Point, where he started 4 straight years at Free Safety. After graduation, Mike continued his service in the Military and did two tours of duty in Iraq. We would communicate through e-mail while he was deployed and he always ended his e-mail with "Win". This simple word always stuck with me and it personifies the type of person Mike is. He is the hardest working, most positive, most uplifting person I have ever met. We need more Mike McElraths in the world.
After I was diagnosed with ALS, I was devastated. Here I was, 39 years old, father of four beautiful kids, married to a beautiful woman, owner of a successful business and my whole life ahead of me. The diagnosis came out of nowhere and changed everything. My world came crashing down all around me. One of the first people I called was Mike McElrath to tell him my bad news. Mike heard what I had to say and was obviously upset, but he clearly wasn't going to take this news without putting up a fight, and making sure I put up a fight as well. After we hung up, Mike sent me a text and he ended it with "We Will Win".
Ever since then, I have used that statement as a rallying cry. "Win" has been Mike's approach to life. Whether it was on the football field, on the battle field, in the classroom, or in everyday life, nobody personifies "Win" more than Mike. I'm not sure what I am trying to "Win", but when I'm presented with a tough situation, I use the phrase to help me through it. For me, "We Will Win" means extending my life as long as I can, giving my kids a firm foundation as they begin their lives and living a life with meaning. It also helps me as I battle this disease. The ultimate "Win" would be finding a cure for ALS. That is not the only measurement I'll use though. A cure is an incredible longshot, but one that I will strive to reach. More important, however, is passing on to my kids the "We Will Win" spirit. Life is always going to surprise you and can set you back if you let it. Overcoming obstacles and striving to be the best they can be is what I'm trying to instill in them. Hopefully, through my determination and actions, they can see what it takes to keep getting back up when you're knocked down. If I can teach them to live with a "We Will Win" mindset, I will have succeeded.
Adam Breneman (from summer 2012):
The phrase "We Will Win" has motivated me in such a drastic way. Seeing Tom Kirchhoff, the man who had it all, suddenly get hit with a horrible disease like A.L.S. shook me up emotionally. But after talking to Tom, despite his physical state getting worse, you would never think anything was wrong with him. His spirits were so high and there was never a moment that seemed like Tom was feeling sorry for himself. I had the chance to spend some time with Tom and his wife in June, and I was so surprised at how positive they were. I really think they are so positive because they have the "We Will Win" mindset. But here I was, 17 years old, thinking that "We Will Win" means finding the cure for A.L.S. When in reality, winning is so much more than that. You see, winning is more than just scoring the most points, being the best athlete, or getting the best grade on a test. Winning is something that comes from within, and I never realized that until I witnessed Tom fight through this disease. Winning is giving everything you do everything you have, all the time.
When I tore my ACL in June, I thought my whole life was over. I wouldn't be able to play football or basketball my senior year of high school. I wouldn't be able to play in any All-American games or do any of the fun things every athlete wants to do. The only thing that kept me going was thinking about playing at Penn State in 2013. But after thinking a lot about my injury, Tom's fight with A.L.S., and the statement "We Will Win", I realized that football is a small part in the grand scheme of things. Winning for me is not being a five star recruit, breaking the state record, or playing in the NFL. Winning is to let football be what I do, and not let it define who I am.
At the end of the day, our goal is the raise money for Project A.L.S. and help them find a cure for this disease. However, in reality the chances of a cure being found are not in our favor. A.L.S. may end up taking Tom Kirchhoff's life someday, but A.L.S. will not have defeated Tom Kirchhoff. Tom will leave a legacy behind that motivates and touches thousands of people. Whatever happens in the future with Tom's fight with A.L.S., Tom will win. Not because the disease will suddenly disapear, but because he fought it with everything he had and truly made the world a better place while doing it. If I can live to be half the man Tom Kirchhoff is, I will have won too. Together, as a community, we can win this fight with A.L.S. and we can win the journey of life.