Jump to content

About Charlie Weis...


Recommended Posts

God, family, Notre Dame

Loved ones have come first for Weis



South Bend Tribune Staff Writer


He awakened from a coma and into a nightmare, unsure if he'd ever get to hug his daughter, Hannah, again.


The knowledge that he had survived a gastric bypass surgery that had gone terribly wrong was hardly comforting to Charlie Weis. In fact, it shook him to his core.


"I wouldn't let myself go to sleep at night, because I was afraid I would never wake up," said Weis, recalling the aftermath of the surgery three summers ago. "But every day, my wife, Maura, would come to the hospital in the morning and she'd hold my hand and look into my eyes. And then I'd doze off. She was the only person I felt safe with."


If his near-death experience produced ethereal experiences, such as white lights and angelic figures, Weis has no memory of them.


"The only thing I really remember throughout was fighting for my family," he said of Maura, son Charlie Jr., and Hannah.


Little did the Notre Dame football coach know at the time how hard his family was fighting for him.


"I saw Maura at the hospital," said family friend Brenda Cryan, "and how she asked the questions and how she went after the doctors who were evading issues and trying to hide things, and she would have none of that.


"She got Charlie out of that hospital, and Charlie is around now because of her."


If there was a transformative thread in the near-tragedy, it was that it coaxed Charlie and Maura Weis to take the strength they had always brought to their own family and extend it to others.


Less than a year later, the Weises started Hannah & Friends, to assist individuals affected by autism and other developmental disabilities (www.hannahandfriends.org). Hannah, the Weises' 10-year-old daughter, has global developmental delays -- delays in speech, motor skills and social skills.



No more emptiness


Charlie Weis had begun to ascend the coaching ladder when what he considers the turning point of his life -- meeting Maura -- crept up on him.


"It was 1991 -- March 9, 1991, to be exact," he said. "That's the day I met Maura at the Jersey Shore. I was a rookie coach in the NFL. We had just won a Super Bowl, so I'm feeling pretty good about myself. It's my first year in the NFL, and I've already got a Super Bowl ring. But to be perfectly honest, your life is kind of empty, because you have no one to share it with."


Charlie wanted to make sure that resonance wasn't washed away by his career drive. It still isn't uncommon for him to put in 100-hour weeks during football season, so he made sure Maura got a taste of that life before they were engaged.



Excerpt from a story on Charlie Weis "The Family Man'' in Irish Sports Report 2005 Football Annual, available at the Tribune and some local retail outlets. Look for a complete list of outlets in Sunday's Tribune.


"Here's what my family knows," Charlie said. "They know when I'm not working, I'm doing something with them. They know I'm not on the golf course. I don't go fishing. I don't go out with the fellas. They know I will give them every second I possibly can. My whole life, my whole career, my whole impetus for whatever I do is Maura, Charlie and Hannah."



Hannah's story


Charlie Weis was sitting in a doctor's office, already hemorrhaging emotionally from the diagnosis of Infantile Polycystic Kidney Disease attached to his unborn second child.


There is no known cure for the genetic disease and the best-case scenario would be that the child would live two years. More likely, the doctor told him, the baby would die during childbirth or in the few days that followed.


Eventually, Weis found a doctor who provided the Weis family with a second opinion. The little girl, who would be born 2 1/2 months later as Hannah, did not have the fatal kidney disease after all, but did have some blockage in her ureters -- ducts that carry away urine to the bladder.


Hannah underwent surgery at the age of 2 months and had her right kidney removed. The blockage was removed from the other ureter.


Everything was progressing wonderfully until shortly before her second birthday. It was about that time that the effervescing toddler stopped talking, started having fits of anger and stopped playing with her toys.


Eventually, Hannah was diagnosed with global developmental delays.


"She's a great kid," Charlie said. "She can get a little wild, and when she does, everyone starts staring her down. From a parent's standpoint, it breaks your heart."


"For a long time, I needed to know why it happened. I felt sorry for Hannah. I felt sorry for myself," Charlie said. "I still need to know -- but for a different reason. I need to know, so it doesn't happen to someone else's kid."


Maura too went looking for answers, first to help Hannah, then to help others.


"Maura knew it could happen to anybody," said Cryan. "She needed to raise awareness. She needed to help more than just Hannah."


Apparently Maura Weis looks at her husband's new increased celebrity as a blessing. Already she is as visible as any Notre Dame football coach's wife in memory. She gives speeches. She grants interviews. She gives up her privacy to feed the public cause.


"I believe Hannah is an angel and put here on this earth to teach us," Maura writes on the Hannah & Friends Web site. "She and all children with disabilities are here for that purpose and are some of the greatest teachers on this planet. They strive every day of their lives to become the best they can become. For Charlie and I, we take the lessons learned from Han and make a difference in the lives of others through Hannah & Friends."



thank god this is the man coaching notre dame. this is the right guy,he was not 1st choice but he is the best choice.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Join the conversation

You can post now and register later. If you have an account, sign in now to post with your account.
Note: Your post will require moderator approval before it will be visible.

Reply to this topic...

×   Pasted as rich text.   Restore formatting

  Only 75 emoji are allowed.

×   Your link has been automatically embedded.   Display as a link instead

×   Your previous content has been restored.   Clear editor

×   You cannot paste images directly. Upload or insert images from URL.


  • Create New...