[Isaiah Hole/247 Sports]
Last night, Michigan’s football team gained a member. FIfteen-year-old Larry Prout Jr. of Howell signed his NLI in front of a packed Schembechler Hall, as his family, friends, the media, and members of the team crowded into the Towsley Museum for a press conference in his honor. Prout was connected with the football program through Team IMPACT, and he developed a bond with John O’Korn and De’Veon Smith over the summer. I can’t do Prout’s story the justice that it deserves; read on to learn about his journey in his own words.
Seth Rosenzweig, Team IMPACT’s Executive Director
“Thank you so much, and thank you for having us. Good evening. I’m very excited to be here as the executive director of Team IMPACT. Team IMPACT, for those who don’t know, is a national social non-profit that focuses on improving the quality of life of children who are facing life-limiting and chronic diseases, and we do this through the power of team by them being officially drafted, like Larry will today, by collegiate athletic teams.
“It’s a really, really big privilege to be here. The program not only has great impact on the kids and their families but also on the college athletes, coaches, and the entire community. It’s really a privilege to do this work. We’ve been around for five years and have matched over 1,000 kids in 46 states [with] 430 universities; 30,000 collegiate athletes have been a part of this, and we’re looking to really grow in scale over the next several years.
“Tonight, obviously, is really not about Team IMPACT, it’s about Larry, and we’re really excited for you to be a part of Team IMPACT as well as the University. I did find a great quote from Coach…I hope it’s from you. You said something like this: ‘I love being part of something that is working toward a greater goal, and there’s no more satisfaction in life than achieving these goals as a team.’ I feel like that really accentuates what this partnership is, and without further adieu I’ll turn it over to Coach Harbaugh.”
[After THE JUMP: Jim Harbaugh and Larry Prout Jr.]
“Thanks. As you can tell, Larry’s a great guy. He’s got a great family, and we’re real happy today. Our team just got bigger. It’s a very important thing for us, our team, and it’s an honor to share a sideline with Larry. He’s been to two games so far this year; we’ve won ‘em both, right Larry!?
“You know, we’re all going to be members of the health care system or clients of the health care system at some point in our lives. You wish most of those surgeries would be saved up for people that’re already done growing up. Larry’s faced over 90 surgeries. Probably set a record. State of Michigan record at least. Maybe a world record, maybe a national record.
“But he’s—we feel like we’re drawing the long straw on this one to have Larry be a part of our team, so to Larry, his whole family, welcome aboard, Go Blue, and keep up the great work. You’re an inspiration to all of us.”
Larry Prout Jr.
“Hello everyone, and thank you for coming. Thank you for this opportunity. Thank you Team IMPACT, the Michigan Wolverines football team, my surgeons, nurses, and family. I stand here before you today as just one of the stories that can be told regarding the patients at the great University’s Mott Children’s Hospital. I also stand here as just one of the stories that could be told about many sick children and their families across the country. My heart goes out to all of the families of the children with chronic illness.
“I am humbled to have been chosen by Team IMPACT to participate in their program. I have met some of the coaches and players over the past several weeks. I’ve listened to many speeches made by the Michigan football staff and professors. Mr. Jack Harbaugh made a great speech on why any recruit should come to the University of Michigan. He used three of Coach Bo Schembechler’s words. He said it’s because of ‘the team, the team, the team.’
“My team, and world, has been the University of Michigan’s C.S. Mott Children’s Hospital since the day I was born. I have had over 90 surgeries and procedures combined. I was born with spina bifida, cloacal extrophy, a giant opening on my abdomen called a massive omphalocele, among other diagnoses. When I was born, most of my major organs were on the outside of my body. I was not given much of a chance to survive birth, let alone live two weeks outside the womb. I’ve been cut, broken, and sewed back up many times. Not all of the surgeries were a success, but this didn’t stop my family from bringing me back to the University of Michigan’s Mott Children’s Hospital. This didn’t stop my team from drawing up another play and to hopefully go on to win another day.
“As I am signing and committing to the University of Michigan football team today, I am thankful for this opportunity and will work hard to represent its history, integrity, and dedication to excellence. I also hope to bring awareness and to represent all the children fighting to stay healthy with their team of surgeons, nurses, and all the other medical staff. Thank you with all my heart for giving me this chance, Team IMPACT and the Wolverines. Go Blue!”