By KATIE BORKOWSKI
SPENCER – “Ru-dy, Ru-dy” was chanted for Daniel “Rudy” Ruttiger in 1974 when he sacked the quarterback in the last 27 seconds of the only play in the only game of his college football career at the University of Notre Dame.
On April 28 and 29, Ruttiger will share those experiences at Sacred Heart in Spencer for “An Evening with Daniel ‘Rudy’ Ruttiger,” sponsored by Sacred Heart School and Carlson Property Holdings and Management.
Brad and Tanya Carlson, parishioners at Sacred Heart and parents of a student at and graduate of Sacred Heart School, approached Sacred Heart about bringing Ruttiger to Spencer. The Carlsons are the owners of Carlson Property Holdings and Management.
“We are Notre Dame fans and try to get down there for a football game every year,” he said. “The movie ‘Rudy’ has always inspired me. He was always being told he couldn’t do something and I guess I have had parts of my life where I could relate to that.”
The morning of April 28, Ruttiger will speak to the fourth through 12th graders from throughout Spencer for about a half-hour at the high school.
“The high school was very generous to open their facility,” said Sheriffa Jones, director of stewardship and development at Sacred Heart. “They are extremely thankful for the opportunity to have a motivational speaker come to the school.”
Ruttiger, coming as a motivational speaker, Brad Carlson said, is not only great for the kids, “but as a business owner, it is a message I am very excited for my employees to hear.”
Evening with Rudy
“An Evening with Daniel ‘Rudy’ Ruttiger” will take place on Friday and Saturday evening in the parish hall at Sacred Heart. There will be a social hour, dinner and Ruttiger will speak to the crowd about 7 p.m.
“We know there is always something we will be competing with,” said Jones. “We are doing Friday and Saturday night to allow people the opportunity if they can’t attend one night, they can attend the other night.”
Ruttiger will offer the same message both nights.
“We are excited,” said Brad Carlson. “I think it is going to be a great event for our town, for our school – Sacred Heart and the high school – and the businesses in town.”
Message of hope
Following his university graduation, Ruttiger is now a motivational speaker. He reaches school children, university students and professional athletes with the same enthusiasm he brought to the gridiron – portraying the human spirit that comes from his personal experiences of adversity and triumph.
“We talk about hope, which is very important,” said Ruttiger. “When I approached Notre Dame on the movie, I said I want to give hope to the people who have their faith in line and keep the commandments in line.”
Although Notre Dame is a Catholic institution of higher learning, not everyone on the football team espoused the same faith, Ruttiger pointed out.
“Some were Baptist, some were LDS, some were Methodist and we never asked what they were,” he said. “It is not important what you are. It is important that we all treat each other well and the same.”
Ruttiger brings this message into his presentation.
“That’s the biggest thing I talk about,” the motivational speaker said. “We emphasize the power of your thoughts and the power of your choices that gives you the heavenly gift.”
In 1993, TriStar Productions immortalized Ruttiger’s life story with the blockbuster film, Rudy. Ruttiger acknowledged it took several years to get both Notre Dame and Hollywood on board for the film.
“I had to go off to Hollywood and inspire them to do Rudy,” said Ruttiger. “I had to inspire Notre Dame to do Rudy. It is not an easy thing to do.”
The key is positive thinking, he reiterated.
“It’s not about the tackle. It’s not about football. It’s not about academics,” said Ruttiger. “It is the power of the dream. When you have a dream, you will find ways to get there.”
If you go
What: An Evening with Daniel ‘Rudy’ Ruttiger
When: April 28, 29
Time: Social hour at 6 p.m.; dinner at 6:30 p.m.; speaker at 7 p.m.
Where: Sacred Heart Parish Hall, Spencer
Cost: $125 single ticket; other “sponsorship” levels available
Tickets: Call (712) 580-6348 or go to spencersacredheart.ejoinme.org/rudy.