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Changing the game

Katie Grant | Tuesday, March 1, 2011

On Feb. 8, 2011, my father, Peter Grant, met a tragic end by taking his own life, just a week and two days before Dave Duerson’s suicide. Our family donated my father’s brain and spinal cord to the Boston University study of Chronic Traumatic Encephalopathy (CTE), the same study to which Duerson bequeathed his brain. My father, a 1983 graduate of Notre Dame, not only was a classmate of Duerson, but also lived in Grace Hall and personally knew him. These are not their only similarities. My father was not a Notre Dame football player, but he was an enthusiastic high school and interhall football and hockey player. During his high school sports career, my father sustained seven “major” concussions, with at least two extended hospital stays.

 CTE has been in the national media spotlight in recent weeks, but I want to stress that even though the primary focus of this study is professional and collegiate athletes, the disease potentially affects anyone who has suffered head trauma. My father is, to my knowledge, the only member of the study not associated with collegiate or professional sports. I would like my father’s donation to bring awareness of CTE to sports at all levels. I believe if a significant effort is made that sports such as football and hockey can adapt to reduce head trauma in a fashion that does not take away the integrity of the game.

This is a vital and necessary cause needed to be pursued not only by the NFL and NCAA, but by all sports associations that deal with these injuries, whether high school or even younger. I know Notre Dame will spread awareness of this issue, now having two alumni in the Boston University study. Notre Dame stands on the principles of community and faith. These principles combined with the University’s devotion to football make me firmly believe we can expect an increase in awareness about this issue.

As a final thought, there are no words to express how thankful my family and I am to this University. We understand more than ever what it means to be a member of the Notre Dame family. This University truly does live up to, in every way possible, its values. My family and I could not have gotten through the most difficult days of our lives without the tremendous and continued support that goes above and beyond anything we could have ever imagined. Thank you Notre Dame and thank you to everyone who has shown us support or kept us in their thoughts, it means more to us than you could ever know.

Katie Grant

senior

off campus

Feb. 27