Haley Scott DeMaria

Archive for February, 2011


I gave a talk this morning at Saint John’s Catholic Prep in Frederick, MD, and afterwards was presented with “some gear” – a Saint John’s sweatshirt. I loved this, for so many reasons.

First of all, the principal presented it to me because of the story I tell in my book about how much I loved wearing Notre Dame clothing when I was in rehab. He read the book! That, in itself, was exciting to me. He also remembered how meaningful some gear was to me – and wanted to show his appreciation in a similar manner.

I think this is a lesson from which we can all learn. Listen. Pay attention. Remember what is meaningful to your friends, a loved-one, a teacher or a colleague. Because a simple gesture, or a simple word is so powerful when it is genuine and filled with meaning.

Thanks so much to the students of Saint John’s Catholic Prep! Especially Brian – the fantastic junior who took the initiative to contact me on his own and invite me to speak. What a great school and student body! Our future is bright with these leaders.

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    It’s official! We are working on a movie called “Two Miles From Home,” based on my book, “What Though the Odds – Haley Scott’s Journey of Faith and Triumph.” Pending funding, we will begin filming in the next 12 months, with a release slated for 2012 – the 20th anniversary of the bus accident. Stay tuned to the blog for more information and movie updates!

    For Immediate Release                                                          Feb. 15, 2011


     Notre Dame approves on-campus filming for Haley Scott movie


                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 America’ 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 freshman, 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-meter 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 at http://www.facebook.com/pages/Two-Miles-From-Home/122890367768765#!/pages/Two-Miles-From-Home/122890367768765?v=wall



  • Filed under: Blog

    The Superbowl changed for me 19 years ago. I was a freshman in college and I had fully embraced the culture of college football. Going to class with football players and passing them in the back hallways of the Joyce Center made Notre Dame football more meaningful and exciting than rooting for a professional team I had never met. We were all athletes playing for the same University.

    But in 1992, back when the Superbowl was still in January (before wildcard games and a week-off before the Superbowl), the game was played on January 26th, two days after the bus accident: the day my 48-hour window had closed. Superbowl Sunday wasn’t so super for me that year, as it was the day I was told I would never walk or swim again. As much as I loved football, the game was relatively meaningless to me that night.

    It is still an interesting day for me to look back upon and reflect. I talk about it in each of my speeches: not that it was the day of the Superbowl (although I will try to remember to include that in my next talk), but that it was the day I lived in denial. I was told I was in denial, although I did not think so at the time. But was I? Probably. And was that a bad thing? I don’t think so. Could denial have prevented me from giving up?

    I do not have an answer. There is a fine line between being hopeful and being realistic. The balance is to find hope in reality, and then to never lose faith in that hope. Often times we can’t change reality, but we can strengthen our faith.

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