Promise keeper: the last wish of a dying boy

by Terry Moran

(Off Camera) Finally tonight, keeping a promise. There are many great stories about the Fighting Irish of the University of Notre Dame. Stories that wake up the echoes, as the song goes. This is another one. It’s a story about a dying boy and his last wish. He wanted to call a play for the Irish football team, in a real game. ESPN’s Tom Rinaldi tells us what happened.

TOM RINALDI, ESPN

Almost from the day he was given his name, Montana, after Joe Montana, Montana Mazurkiewicz grew up watching Notre Dame football. From the day he was diagnosed with a brain tumor a year and a half ago, he kept watching. And last week, he asked if a player from the team could visit him at home. The head coach came instead.

MOTHER, FEMALE

The coach walked right past me. And he said, hi, I am Charlie Weis, and Montana’s eyes just lit up.

CHARLIE WEIS, NOTRE DAME HEAD COACH

You’re looking at a kid that you know is not going to make it. I thought my job was to do all I could to get a smile on his face.

MOTHER

The coach just asked him, what would you, what would you like to do? Would you like to call a play? And Montana said, I’d like to call the first offensive play.

CHARLIE WEIS

I said, well, do you want me to run or pass? And he goes, pass to the right. Not just pass, pass to the right.

MOTHER

And the coach just kind of broke out in a sweat, you know?

TOM RINALDI

Just a day and a half after the visit, Montana died in his mother’s arms. He was ten years old.

MOTHER

I just held him and sang him the stupid Notre Dame fight song, and then, some other songs that my daughter had written. And I just told him he could rest, it was time to stop fighting, that he could rest now, and that he was my hero.

TOM RINALDI

A day later, the family watched as Notre Dame played. For its first offensive play of the game, the ball rested inside the Notre Dame one yard line.

MOTHER

No way. He’s not going to pass it. He’s not gonna do it. He can’t, he can’t make that play.

CHARLIE WEIS

I said, well, we don’t have a choice. I said, it’s not whether we’re going to do it, we don’t have a choice, run the play.

ANNOUNCER, MALE

Play action for Quinn. Throws, wide-open, (inaudible). The tight end with a hurdle. Provided a first down.

TOM RINALDI

The play went for 13 yards, but reached much farther, all the way to a family in Indiana, a family in grief.

MOTHER

It was the fact that coach Weis kept his word. That was the big thing, that he kept his word in an almost impossible situation to a ten year-old kid that he didn’t even know.

TOM RINALDI

Last Sunday, Weis returned to the house and gave the family the game ball, signed by the entire team. But he knows and they know, it’s about more than football. For ABC News, Tom Rinaldi, ESPN.

TERRY MORAN

(Off Camera) Pass to the right.

TERRY MORAN

(Off Camera) That’s our report. Tomorrow on “Good Morning America,” more on the Lake George boat accident.

TERRY MORAN

(Off Camera) I’m Terry Moran. For all of us at ABC News, have a good week. Good night.

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