One of the greatest underdog stories of all-time, Rudy Ruettiger is the inspiration for the 1993 film Rudy. Ruettiger dreamed of playing college football at Notre Dame, however low grades prevented his acceptance. He enrolled at Holy Cross Junior College and discovered his marginal grades were due to dyslexia. On his fourth attempt, he was finally accepted to Notre Dame. He immediately began to tackle his next goal: to play for the Fighting Irish. Despite his 5’6″, 185-pound stature, Ruettiger walked on to the scout team. Late in his senior year, Coach Dan Devine had Ruettiger dress for the first time, which happened to also be his last opportunity to play at home. He was put into the game at defensive end against Georgia Tech on November 8, 1975. On the field for three plays, Ruettiger successfully sacked the Georgia Tech quarterback in his final play. He was carried off the field, the first player in Notre Dame history to achieve the honor.
Ruettiger inspires audiences with his incredible story of adversity and triumph. He has shared the stage with great leaders and motivators, including George H.W. Bush, Joe Montana and Colin Powell. His story was featured in the publications People, Sports Illustrated and Readers Digest, and on the programs Good Morning America and Entertainment Tonight.
Ruettiger founded the Rudy Foundation, which develops and supports programs that positively impact children’s lives cognitively, emotionally, and spiritually. The Rudy Award is a nationwide school program designed to recognize children who strive to do their best everyday. Aside from his nonprofit work, Ruettiger released his memoir, Rudy, in 2012.