**NFL Running Back, College Coach & High School Coach Embrace the Brotherhood of Football to Get Help for Family in Need**
NFL Player Willis McGahee, Towson University Head Coach Rob Ambrose and Reservoir High School Coach Rick Trott band together to find assistance for a local family struck by tragedy
BALTIMORE—As a former Towson University football player and U.S. Marine, Joe Sclafani, Jr. would never have seen this coming. Unexpectedly and without explanation, the C5/C6 disk bulged and compressed Sclafani's spinal cord. During surgery, his doctor found another obstacle, an infectious abscess that had encapsulated itself into his spinal cord as well. The pressure from both the disk and abscess resulted in Sclafani becoming a quadriplegic.
Although the Sclafanis live in a ranch-style house, he can only access 20 percent of the house on his own. He cannot access his daughter's bedrooms to read to them, kiss them goodnight or play with them due to the size of the hallway and the entrance sizes of their rooms. Since the master bedroom door was widened, Joe can access it; however, in order to fit the lift needed to move Joe and necessary medical supplies, he and his wife, Monica, sleep in separate single beds and their dressers and clothes are kept in the garage. The one bathroom in the house is not accessible with an ever smaller entrance than the girls' rooms. Sclafani can't feel running water; he gets "bird baths" every day lying in bed.
The Sclafani house needs some modifications and a modest addition to create a handicapped- accessible house that would change the quality of their lives and assist Joe with being more independent. He and Monica had thought about making some renovations to their house, but the money they receive from disability is not enough to pay their current monthly bills.
Rick Trott, who currently coaches football at Reservoir High School, received an e-mail from his old college football coach, Rob Ambrose, the head coach at Towson University. The e-mail from Ambrose, which spoke of Sclafani and his situation, was sent to former Towson football players imploring them to find a way to help a "brother" in need, and thus a chain of events began that would change the Sclafanis' lives.
Trott had never met the man that was described in the e-mail. Sclafani had left TU a year before Trott ever stepped on the field there. Still, the letter spoke to him and he knew he had to do something. Trott called his neighbor and friend, NFL player Willis McGahee (Baltimore Ravens), to come up with a plan to help. McGahee knew exactly who the next call should go out to.
Almost immediately upon arriving in Baltimore, McGahee wanted to give back to the community and knowing that area realtors are always in touch with neighborhoods and communities, a partnership between the running back and the Howard County Association of Realtors was formed. He knew they could help. A call was placed, a few e-mails were exchanged, and within a couple weeks, the Sclafani family was contacted by the Maryland Partnership for Housing Foundation that administers the program Maryland Home Makeover, a spinoff of NBC's popular television show, "Extreme Home Makeover." The news was just what the family had been wishing for. They would become the recipients of a brand new addition to their home which would be outfitted with handicap accessibilities the Sclafani family could only previously dream of.
"The realtors are in touch with the needs of the community at a grassroots level on a daily basis," McGahee said, "and my partnership with them has been invaluable in helping a ton of local families just like Joe's."
"The brotherhood of football is a bond that only those who have played can truly understand its depth," Ambrose said. "In my career there have been numerous prideful moments both as a player and a coach, but the outpouring of support for the Sclafani family and the active participation by those in the larger football family is, in a word, awesome."
Trott added, "When my college football career was cut short at Towson due to an injury, Coach Ambrose kept me around and taught me the coaching trade. I made a promise then that if I ever had the chance to repay him, I would. When he sent the e-mail about Joe's situation, I knew exactly who I could call to help."