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Movie to be filmed on ND’s campus

Observer staff | Wednesday, February 16, 2011

Notre Dame gave approval for the filming of a motion picture on campus beginning this year, according to a Tuesday press release.

The film, which will be the third to be filmed on campus in Notre Dame’s history, is about Haley Scott DeMaria, a Notre Dame swimmer who was paralyzed for a week after a 1992 bus accident that killed two of her teammates, the press release stated.

“Though we receive many requests, the University has allowed just two movies to be filmed on our campus, — ‘Knute Rockne, All American’ and ‘Rudy,'” University President Fr. John Jenkins said in the press release. “The perseverance, courage and faith that Haley demonstrated in overcoming the critical injuries and medical setbacks she suffered can inspire many and so should be told to the widest audience possible.”

The movie’s tentative title is “Two Miles from Home,” and it is based on DeMaria’s book, “What Though the Odds: Haley Scott’s Journey of Faith and Triumph.”

The bus accident on which the film is based occurred Jan. 24, 1992. DeMaria, a freshman at the time, and her Notre Dane teammates were on their way back to South Bend from a meet at Northwestern University, according to the press release. Due to heavy snow, the bus slid off the Indiana Toll Road two miles before the exit to return to campus.

Meghan Beeler and Colleen Hipp, both freshman swimmers, died in the crash.

After two operations at South Bend’s Memorial Hospital and several days without sensation in her legs, doctors told DeMaria that she would likely spend the rest of her life in a wheelchair, the press release stated.

One week after the accident, DeMaria regained some feeling in her legs, was able to walk with a cane one month later and returned to classes on Notre Dame’s campus in the spring of 1992.

That summer, the rods in DeMaria’s legs meant to keep her spine straight came lose and she was rushed to San Diego for three more surgeries. She almost died during one of the surgeries, according to the press release.

DeMaria returned to classes in the fall of 1992 and slowly began to swim again. On Oct. 29, 1993 she swam a 50-meter race and won her heat.

DeMaria and co-producers Chris Jones and Dan Waterhouse are raising money and hope to begin filming this year, according to the press release. They plan to release the film in 2012, the 20th anniversary of the accident.

Robert C. Thompson, who produced the 1973 Academy Award-winning film, “The Paper Chase,” will serve as executive producer for “Two Miles From Home.” Waterhouse wrote the script and is also the director.

Former Irish head football coach Lou Holtz said in the press release that DeMaria’s story has inspired him.

“I don’t know of any story more heartwarming, encouraging or motivating than Haley’s story,” Holtz said. “She is a very special young lady and has had a positive influence on my life as well as many others.”

DeMaria and her husband, Jamie, who also graduated from Notre Dame, live in Annapolis, Md., with their two children, according to the press release. She is also a board member of the Notre Dame Monogram Club.