‘Rudy’ shares inspirational tale

PHOTO BY NICOLE WALBY Daniel “Rudy” Ruettiger tells his story of perseverance, determination and overcoming obstacles Wednesday at Columbian High School during the Tiffin-Seneca Public Library’s Foundation Speaker Series.

Possibly the most famous graduate of the University of Notre Dame, Daniel “Rudy” Ruettiger was keynote speaker at Tiffin-Seneca Public Library’s Foundation Speaker Series Wednesday night.

Ruettiger is best known for the only play he participated in during his collegiate football career. In the final 27 seconds of his only game, he sacked the quarterback.

“I had no right going to Notre Dame,” Ruettiger said. “Everything was against me, academically, economically and socially.”

Ruettiger is the son of an oil refinery worker from Chicago and the third of 14 children. He had many dreams growing up, but it wasn’t until one day watching his father watch a University of Notre Dame football game that he knew what his one and only dream would be.

“I never understood why my dream couldn’t come true,” he said.

With dyslexia, Ruettiger had trouble learning and grew to hate school. He graduated in the bottom of his class and began to work after high school.

“I didn’t like where I was,” he said.

So he joined the U.S. Navy.

Ruettiger said he learned to not speak his dreams out loud, but to show them by his actions and attitude. He became a leader in the Navy and his confidence grew.

“I started dreaming again,” he said.

Ruettiger said he started not listening to people who told him he couldn’t do something, but listened to those who told him he could.

“Don’t steal someone’s joy, encourage their joy,” he said. “Winners want you to win.”

It was his perseverance that led to the making of the 1993 film “Rudy.”

“You can do anything if you change your attitude,” he said. “If you are not positive, you won’t be able to recognize the opportunities in front of you.”

Ruettiger said he tells his story to give people hope.

“Dreams are real,” he said. “Fight for your feeling.”