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Saturday, August 14, 2010

Gene Stallings

What a wonderful honor it was to meet Gene Stallings tonight! Some of you may know him as a great past coach of the Alabama college football team. In my family ... we are avid Alabama football fans, so we have known who Gene Stallings is for quite a while.

Coach Stallings came into town this weekend to speak at our church (First Baptist North Mobile) on Sunday morning for our "Every Sunday Is Game Day" kickoff. My husband, Mark, picked Coach Stallings up from the airport and as they drove he began to tell him about our little girl, Victoria. This, of course, was a very special conversation due to the fact that Coach Stallings had a son with Downs named Johnny.

Mark drove Coach Stallings to meet a small group of folks for dessert. I was among the few there and thoroughly enjoyed meeting Coach Stallings. He asked me right away how my little girl was doing. He shared many encouraging words with me that night concerning having a child with special needs. He hugged and kissed me on the cheek twice that night. He was such a sweet man. He wanted to make sure that I brought Victoria to meet him the next morning at church.

The next morning, Coach Stallings spoke at North Mobile and was swarmed by a slew of folks after the service was over. I managed to get to him and introduced him to Victoria. Without saying a word, he handed his Bible to Mark, immediately grabbed Victoria from my arms and kissed and hugged her. It was not only moving to me, but I believe it was for him, as well. You see, he lost his son Johnny several years ago and misses him so much.

I was very encouraged this weekend by a very special man. If you haven't read Coach Stallings' book, Another Season, I strongly encourage you to. It is an amazing account of his past football career intermingled with the struggles and joys of having a child with special needs in the family. You can find the book at www.amazon.com/Another-Season-Gene-Stallings/dp/0767902556.


David Simpson said...

Thank you for that wonderful story, Heather! I distinctly remember Coach Stallings, and his son, when he coached our Phoenix Cardinals back in the '80's. You would see the coach on TV, or making a personal appearance, and it seemed he always had his son with him.
What a great role model to all parents...

Alex said...

What a beautiful story, life gives you the most wonderful moments that just make it all so worthwhile.

Jeff Nicoll said...

Watched the video of his service at First Baptist North Mobile last night and it was awesome. What a wonderful testimony.