banner
Ken Medlin

When football takes a back seat

Posted December 27, 2013

UNC quarterback Marquise Williams (12) drops back to throw a pass during action at Kenan Stadium between the University of North Carolina Tar Heels and the Duke University Blue Devils on November 30, 2013 in Chapel Hill, NC.

A strange thing happened at Belk Bowl media day, and it put football - and life itself - in perspective.

Jared Fialko and I were wrapping up an interview with Marquise Williams when the Carolina quarterback asked if he could tell us one more thing.

This doesn't happen very often with major college athletes - they're busy and constantly being bombarded with questions, and that goes doubly so for a "media day" setting such as this one a day before the Belk Bowl. Players are scattered around at interview stations where a steady stream of reporters (and that includes us) cycle through and (likely) ask the same questions over and over again.

It probably gets mind numbing for the players, which is why it was so unusual for a starting quarterback to ask if he could tell us a story. So, we listened...

Williams proceeded to tell us about Bryce Heckendorf, a young boy less than a year old. Bryce has been diagnosed with Krabbe disease, a degenerative disorder that affects the nervous system. Former NFL quarterback Jim Kelly's son, Hunter, had the same disease. Hunter Kelly lived to be eight years old.

As Marquise told us more about young Bryce, we learned of their connection. Bryce's uncle is an assistant offensive coordinator on the UNC staff. Keith Heckendorf works directly with the quarterbacks, and describes their relationship as being like a family. When times are hard, you rely on your family, and Keith turned to his football family for support. The quarterbacks are now wearing blue wristbands in support of Bryce and his fight.

The effects of Krabbe are disturbing to read. According to the National Institute of Health: "As the disease progresses, muscles continue to weaken, affecting the infant’s ability to move, chew, swallow, and breathe. Affected infants also experience vision loss and seizures." It affects 1 in 100,000 people, and there is no known cure.

Williams talked about how painful it was to imagine a young child being unable to grow and play and do things he - an elite athlete - takes for granted. "I'm playing for my little man," Williams said, pledging to dedicate his bowl game to Bryce. And that's truly something worth rooting for.

If you'd like to read more about Bryce Heckendorf's fight, check out www.thebstrongfund.org.

4 Comments

Please to add a comment.

Newest First
View all
  • IronRam Dec 27, 2013

    ...what a great story about real life and real people making a difference...

  • DUKE4EVER Dec 27, 2013

    Nice story. Great for Williams sharing with the media.

    We get too caught up in sports and fail to remember what is important in life.

    Thanks for making us stop and think.

  • StunGunn Dec 28, 2013

    Caught this on WRAL news; what an inspiring story that certainly puts things in perspective.

  • vt94hokies Dec 29, 2013

    Awesome article.

  • PGA Golf: Quicken Loans National

    Saturday at 3:00 pm on WRAL-TV

  • PGA Golf: Quicken Loans National

    Sunday at 3:00 pm on WRAL-TV

  • PGA Tour Special: PGA Tour 2015: Playing with a Purpose

    Saturday at 1:00 pm on WRAL-TV

  • PGA Golf: WGC – Bridgestone Invitational

    Saturday at 2:00 pm on WRAL-TV

  • PGA Golf: WGC – Bridgestone Invitational

    Sunday at 2:00 pm on WRAL-TV

  • MiLB: Durham Bulls vs. Gwinnett Braves

    Tomorrow at 6:20 pm on Buzz Sports Radio

  • MLB: LA Angels vs. Houston

    Tomorrow at 8:00 pm on 99.9 The Fan

  • MLB: Washington Nationals at NY Mets

    Saturday at 7:00 pm on 99.9 The Fan

  • MLB: Washington Nationals at NY Mets

    Sunday at 8:00 pm on 99.9 The Fan

MLB Scoreboard
Interleague
Atlanta4:05 PT5:05 MT6:05 CT7:05 ET19:05 ET23:05 GMT7:05 4:05 MST6:05 EST6:35 VEN3:05 UAE (+1)6:05 CT
Preview
Baltimore
 
Philadelphia4:07 PT5:07 MT6:07 CT7:07 ET19:07 ET23:07 GMT7:07 4:07 MST6:07 EST6:37 VEN3:07 UAE (+1)6:07 CT
Preview
Toronto
 
Pittsburgh5:10 PT6:10 MT7:10 CT8:10 ET20:10 ET0:10 GMT8:10 5:10 MST7:10 EST7:40 VEN4:10 UAE (+1)7:10 CT
Preview
Minnesota
 
Arizona 7:10 PT8:10 MT9:10 CT10:10 ET22:10 ET2:10 GMT10:10 7:10 MST9:10 EST9:40 VEN6:10 UAE (+1)9:10 CT
Preview
Seattle 
 
Oakland 7:10 PT8:10 MT9:10 CT10:10 ET22:10 ET2:10 GMT10:10 7:10 MST9:10 EST9:40 VEN6:10 UAE (+1)9:10 CT
Preview
LA Dodgers 
American League
Chi White Sox4:10 PT5:10 MT6:10 CT7:10 ET19:10 ET23:10 GMT7:10 4:10 MST6:10 EST6:40 VEN3:10 UAE (+1)6:10 CT
Preview
Boston
 
Kansas City4:10 PT5:10 MT6:10 CT7:10 ET19:10 ET23:10 GMT7:10 4:10 MST6:10 EST6:40 VEN3:10 UAE (+1)6:10 CT
Preview
Cleveland
 
Detroit4:10 PT5:10 MT6:10 CT7:10 ET19:10 ET23:10 GMT7:10 4:10 MST6:10 EST6:40 VEN3:10 UAE (+1)6:10 CT
Preview
Tampa Bay
 
NY Yankees 5:05 PT6:05 MT7:05 CT8:05 ET20:05 ET0:05 GMT8:05 5:05 MST7:05 EST7:35 VEN4:05 UAE (+1)7:05 CT
Preview
Texas 
 
LA Angels5:10 PT6:10 MT7:10 CT8:10 ET20:10 ET0:10 GMT8:10 5:10 MST7:10 EST7:40 VEN4:10 UAE (+1)7:10 CT
Preview
Houston
National League
San Diego4:10 PT5:10 MT6:10 CT7:10 ET19:10 ET23:10 GMT7:10 4:10 MST6:10 EST6:40 VEN3:10 UAE (+1)6:10 CT
Preview
NY Mets
 
Washington4:10 PT5:10 MT6:10 CT7:10 ET19:10 ET23:10 GMT7:10 4:10 MST6:10 EST6:40 VEN3:10 UAE (+1)6:10 CT
Preview
Miami
 
Colorado5:05 PT6:05 MT7:05 CT8:05 ET20:05 ET0:05 GMT8:05 5:05 MST7:05 EST7:35 VEN4:05 UAE (+1)7:05 CT
Preview
Chi Cubs
 
Cincinnati5:15 PT6:15 MT7:15 CT8:15 ET20:15 ET0:15 GMT8:15 5:15 MST7:15 EST7:45 VEN4:15 UAE (+1)7:15 CT
Preview
St. Louis
 
Milwaukee 7:15 PT8:15 MT9:15 CT10:15 ET22:15 ET2:15 GMT10:15 7:15 MST9:15 EST9:45 VEN6:15 UAE (+1)9:15 CT
Preview
San Francisco 
 
ATP Scoreboard
Tuesday, Jul. 28
BB&T Atlanta Open (ATP)
First Round
(5) M. Baghdatis6 6    
A. Krajicek4 0    
(6) S. Johnson6 63 6   
L. Lacko1 77 2   
(8) B. Becker7 0    
M. Berrer5 0    
D. Kudla3 6 77   
R. Harrison6 4 65   
S. Devvarman1 6 4   
J. Donaldson6 3 6   
S. Groth77 5    
F. Tiafoe63 3    
D. Sela 
M. Fish 
 
bet-at-home Open (ATP)
First Round
A. Bedene6 6    
D. Gimeno-Tra4 1    
(6) J. Monaco6 65 6   
E. Gulbis3 77 3   
(4) A. Seppi6 6    
M. Klizan2 4    
(3) R. Bautista A6 6    
B. Coric3 4    
L. Rosol63 66    
S. Bolelli77 78    
(8) F. Fognini6 65 6   
J. Chardy3 77 4   
(7) G. Garcia-Lop2     
J. Munar1     
B. Paire6 3 6   
P. Kohlschrei3 6 1   
(1) R. Nadal3 6 6   
F. Verdasco6 1 1   
(2) T. Robredo63 6 6   
A. Zverev77 4 2   
J. Vesely3 6 0   
A. Haider-Mau6 1 0   
 
Suisse Open Gstaad (ATP)
First Round
B. Kavcic6 0    
J. Reister4 2    
S. Robert6 6    
J. Souza1 4    
(5) T. Bellucci6 6    
K. Coppejans2 3    
(8) S. Giraldo6 6    
P. Lorenzi3 2    
R. Haase1 77 6   
M. Granollers6 61 4   
(7) P. Carreno Bu6 6    
M. Youzhny1 2    
M. Ilhan6 6    
A. Kuznetsov1 2    
(6) J. Sousa6 7    
H. Laaksonen2 5    
 
WTA Scoreboard
Tuesday, Jul. 28
Brasil Tennis Cup (WTA)
First Round
V. Cepede Roy6 6    
P. Goncalves0 3    
A. Pivovarova4 6 1   
E. Kostova6 4 6   
(7) L. Siegemund6 6    
M. Melnikova2 1    
R. Peterson3 5    
M. Torro-Flor6 7    
(3) A. Beck6 6    
C. Alves1 2    
C. Burger6 66 2   
G. Ce4 78 6   
Q. Lemoine5 5    
T. Martincova7 7    
(6) L. Chirico1 4    
A. Sevastova6 6    
R. Ozaki68 6 6   
A. Gamiz710 4 3   
(4) T. Pereira63 6 7   
M. Irigoyen77 3 5   
(5) B. Mattek-San5 6 6   
M. Minella7 3 4   
A. Bogdan6 6    
L. Stefani3 2    
 
Baku Cup (WTA)
First Round
(7) V. Diatchenko6 6    
N. Abduraimov3 4    
K. Bondarenko6 6    
V. Ivakhnenko1 2    
Y. Beygelzime3 0    
Z. Yang6 0    
(4) K. Nara3 2    
O. Savchuk6 6    
O. Ianchuk4 2    
P. Tig6 6    
K. Pliskova6 5 3   
L. Zhu3 7 6   
A. Kontaveit7 6    
M. Eguchi5 2    
C. Buyukakcay1 77 4   
K. Flipkens6 63 6