Freddie Joe Steinmark is an inspiration.
Everybody who knew him kept took a part of his spirit along with them, and his family and friends gathered at his alma mater, Wheat Ridge High School to celebrate his influence.
The event was part of …
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Steinmark graduated from Wheat Ridge in 1967 after lettering in football, baseball and basketball. He led the Farmers to the Class AAA football title as a senior
Attend the University of Texas, where he helped the Longhorns win a national title in 1969, and gained national renown for his performance on an injured leg against Arkansas that season.
His injured leg that was amputated just six days after the Arkansas game (known as "The Game of the Century"), when a bone tumor was discovered.
Steinmark was diagnosed with osteosarcoma, or a cancerous tumor in the bone, and his leg had to be amputated. He died in the summer of 1971.
Served as a spokesperson for the American Cancer Society, during which time he inspired President Nixon to promote and sign into Law the National Cancer Act and officially begin our nation's “War on Cancer.”
The Steinmark Award was named in his honor, and is given each year to a male and female recipient who are multi-sport athletes and excel on the field, in the class and in the community.
The event was part of the lead up to , a movie about his life based on Bower Yousse's biography, . The movie will be released on Nov. 3, and Yousse, screenwriter and Wheat Ridge graduate, hosted the evening.
"We were all blessed to be in the same place and the same time as Freddie," Yousse said. "I was very nervous about writing his book, because I knew anything I wrote couldn't measure up to Freddie."
Steinmark grew up in Wheat Ridge and went to the University of Texas, where he was one of the leaders of the team during its national title win in 1969. He died in 1971 from a cacner that cost him his leg.
The evening featured conversations with some of the people Steinmark knew best - teammates and family members who were with him as he grew up in Wheat Ridge. There were around 53 members of Steinmark's graduating class (the class of 1967), and Kent Cluck, David Dirks and Rick Nabors, all of whom played football with him, remembered their experiences on stage.
"He was confident, dedicated, vice-free, selfless, honorable and fearless. He was a mentor me, especially because he was so spiritual," Nabors said. "If kids have a passion for something they really want to do, they should apply the same traits Freddie did, and the world would be a better place."
His teammates spoke about his dedication to the team, and how he never put himself above his fellow players.
Colorado's prestigious Steinmark Award was named after him, and award-founder Scott Stocker spoke about the huge shadow Steinmark cast for all students.
"I thought we had to have some kind of award that really says something about the best athlete in Colorado," Stocker said. "I'm so grateful that his family let us name the award after him, and we've had some amazing kids recognized over the years."
Wheat Ridge principal Griff Wirth and athletic director Nick DeSimone both highlighted Steinmark's continued presence at the high school, and the high bar he sets for all students.
"You never know when the next Freddie Steinmark will be walking down the hall," DeSimone said.
The most moving part of the evening came when Steinmark's younger brother, Sammy, was joined on stage by his son Freddie Joe, and cousins Greg Duncan, Janet Wyche, Johnny Boy Marchitti and Mike Marchitti.
The affection and awe for Steinmark was evident, but the most affecting stories came from the small, intimate moments.
Wyche remembered losing her faith after Steinmark's diagnosis, and having it restored by the man himself in the face of such strength and humor.
Sammy remembered tailing along his older brother all the time, and all the laughter they two shared.
"He was the kind of brother every little kid prayed for every night, and the one I was lucky enough to have," he said. "Being with Freddie was like traveling with a rock star."
Throughout the evening, Yousse asked his guests what it means to be like Freddie, and the answers always came back to a few ideas — kindness, faith and dedication. A lesson for all Steinmark would have been approved.
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