The ultimate cheerleader: Kyle Whittingham talks about his mother

By Kyle Whittingham

For the Deseret News

Published: Monday, March 19 2012 5:00 a.m. MDT

Although my mom can be tough, she lives her religion through her Christ-like love for others. A few years ago, she was driving along University Parkway in Orem, Utah, during a heavy snowstorm. A segment of this busy highway is steep, and during the storm, the snow piled up quickly on the sidewalks, and the snowplows could barely keep up with the snowfall. Along the way, she spotted a young man in a wheelchair who was trying his best to make it up the hill to a bus stop through the ice and snow. She couldn’t bear to see the young man struggle in such conditions, so she pulled over and offered him a ride.

Although it was not unlike her to help people she didn’t know, she stopped to help because of the oddity of the situation. Undaunted, she innocently joked as he opened the door, “You’re not going to shoot me are you?” They both laughed, and he felt at ease as she helped him and his wheelchair into the car. While she drove him to work, they had a chance to get to know each other.

His name was Andrew Holmes, and he had just moved to Utah from Monroe, La. About a year prior, he was a star linebacker at Carroll High School, and he was planning to attend Grambling University on a football scholarship. Tragically, however, he was paralyzed in an automobile accident. While he was recovering, he learned that his best hope to overcome his handicap was to come to Utah, where specialists have helped other paraplegics learn to walk again.

Without any support from friends or family, he came to Utah, found a job, and was doing his best to afford the costs associated with physical therapy and learning to walk again. He was alone and needed guidance, and my mother went out of her way to help Andrew as much as she could.

Little did my mother know that stopping to help this young man would be the beginning of a friendship that remains strong to this day. Her willingness to take a risk and stop to help a total stranger is indicative of her courage, compassion and love for others.

My mother is one-of-a-kind. She’s suffered through many trials, hardships and heartbreak, yet because of her willingness to show kindness to others, she is one of the most Christ-like people I know. She’s my friend, my confidant and my life-long cheerleader. And I’m grateful she’s my mom.

Kyle Whittingham is the the head football coach at the University of Utah.

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