For just the third time in its history, the University of Notre Dame has given approval for the filming of a motion picture on campus.
Tentatively titled “Two Miles From Home,” the film is the story of Haley Scott DeMaria, the Notre Dame swimmer who was paralyzed for a week after a tragic bus accident in 1992 that took the lives of two of her teammates. The movie is based on DeMaria’s book, “What Though the Odds: Haley Scott’s Journey of Faith and Triumph.”
“Though we receive many requests, the University has allowed just two movies to be filmed on our campus – ‘Knute Rockne, All American’ and Rudy,’" said Rev. John I. Jenkins, C.S.C., Notre Dame’s president. “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.”
Robert C. Thompson, producer of the Academy Award-winning 1973 film “The Paper Chase,” is the executive producer for “Two Miles From Home.” Co-producers are Chris Jones and Dan Waterhouse, who wrote the script and is the director.
DeMaria and the producers are working to raise funds and hope to begin filming this year in order to release the movie in 2012, the 20th anniversary of the accident.
The accident in which DeMaria and her teammates were involved occurred shortly after midnight Jan. 24, 1992, on the way back to campus from a meet at Northwestern University. In heavy snow, the bus slid off the Indiana Toll Road near exit 75 – two miles from home.
Meghan Beeler and Colleen Hipp, both freshmen, died in the crash, and DeMaria, also a freshman, was paralyzed. After two operations at Memorial Hospital in South Bend and several days without sensation in her legs, DeMaria and her family were told she likely was facing life in a wheelchair. But a week after the accident, she began to regain feeling and within a month she was standing and walking with a cane. She returned to classes at Notre Dame that spring, but there were many more challenges ahead.
In the summer of 1992, rods that had been inserted to keep her spine straight came loose and popped through the skin. She was rushed to San Diego where she endured three more complex and risky surgical procedures – and once nearly died on the operating table.
Once again defying all odds, DeMaria returned to Notre Dame in the fall of ’92 to take classes and continue her rehabilitation. She gradually began to swim and a year later, on Oct. 29, 1993, she completed one of the most stirring comebacks in Notre Dame’s history by swimming in – and winning – her heat in a 50-yard race.
When asked at his retirement about the most memorable moment of his tenure as athletic director, Dick Rosenthal said simply: “Haley Scott.”
Former Irish football coach Lou Holtz has said: “I don’t know of any story more heartwarming, encouraging or motivating than Haley’s story. 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, also a Notre Dame graduate, have two children and reside in Annapolis, Md. She serves on the board of the Notre Dame Monogram Club.
More information is available here.