A Will To Live – Life Teammate – Blog
Dear Northwestern Baseball Life Teammates
I can’t tell you what an honor it was to be on campus at Wake Forest for the announcement of “The Ron Wellman Life Teammate Award” (soon to be renamed the “Ron & Linda Wellman Life Teammate Award”) earlier this month (Oct 11th and 12th). As most of you know, with Ron retiring as AD of Wake after 27 wonderfully successful and impactful years, the University wanted to give him a fitting “thank you farewell” – and they didn’t disappoint. The Life Teammate award, which was announced Friday night October 11th, at Ron’s retirement banquet honored two senior student athletes at Wake Forest; a football player, Cade Carney and a soccer player, Madison Hammond. I had the pleasure of announcing the creation of this award which will be given every year now to two WF senior student athletes, voted on by the students themselves. Thus, every year at Wake, every single student athlete will take time out to think about what it means to be a true Life Teammate – that teammate that loves and cares for his teammates on and off the field – every day. A wonderful way to keep the message of the Will To Live Foundation, which I had the honor of presenting in March 2018 to every athlete, alive each year! What made it so special for me (and of course all of you) is that Ron’s name will be attached to the Life Teammate award – and I’m so proud of that and I know Ron is too! Such a wonderful and deserving legacy.
After my speeches in the spring of 2018, Ron and his athletic department continued pushing our message and as a result, every single school in Winston-Salem’s Forsythe county (middle and high school) will have the Signs of Suicide (SOS) program implemented, funded by the money raised by Will To Live and Wake Forest. Ron and the staff at Wake have created a boiler plate for other schools to do the same. After my speech that night, the commissioner of the ACC came up to me with tears in my eyes and said, “your work is not done John, we have more things to do with you in the ACC!”
Finally, and you can see this in the picture above, after I gave my speech and Ron gave his, all three of his beautiful girls, Angie, Nicole and Melissa got on the stage and announced the creation of “Wellman Plaza” which you see as you enter the main buildings of the athletic department. If that was not enough, they also announced the creation of “One Wellman Way” which is now the permanent address of Wake Forest Athletics.
I know all of you would have liked to have attended, and Ron so appreciated the kind outreach he received from so many of you that could not. But, I must say, speaking about Ron, and about my son Will and about the Northwestern influence of the Life Teammate concept, with my NU teammates in the crowd; Danny Grundhard, Tommy Ard, Scott Barczi, Ab Igram, Eddie Tompa, Tim Molek, Lenny Guerra, Lance Hartshorn and Mike Huff – was truly a very special moment for me. Here is my speech;
It was truly my pleasure to then get to announce the man of the hour – Coach! Here is his wonderful speech:
That night – we had a mini NU reunion at Wellman’s home telling so many fun stories with Ron and Linda. Then the next day – we were back over at Wellman’s for a brunch that was followed by a personal tour of Wake’s fabulous new athletic facilities by Ron himself. So many stories, and lots of fun pictures. Finally Saturday evening we joined the Wellman’s at their tailgate before the game. Ron with the NU family next to him also “Opened the gate” for Wake’s football team before the game – a very fun experience if not for the reason of just seeing Ron on the back of a motor cycle driven by the Deamon Decon Mascot!
Here are some more fun pics of the night. We wish you could have all been there!
Well boys- it was a weekend to remember. We are already talking about doing it again. Perhaps in the spring at an NU home game in May (with my son on the team you can imagine how cool that would be for me). We also want to continue our visits to Ron and Linda- their love and support and confidence in us has made us better. Ron and Linda – we thank you and we Love Ya Man!
The Will To Live Foundation
PS: If you want to know more about our Will To Live story, my book was just recently released as an audio book on Amazon Audible (I narrate it and my son Tommy produced it) – Click here for the link.