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“Rudy” of Notre Dame fame to visit Geneva

The man who’s story inspired the popular RUDY movie of 1993 is coming to Geneva this fall. According to the Finger Lakes Times, Daniel “Rudy” Reuttiger has agreed to attend DeSales High School Homecoming activities Oct. 8. Reuttiger will be a guest at a VIP gathering for people sponsoring his visit. He also will show clips of the movie “Rudy” — it was based on Reuttiger making the Notre Dame football team as a walk-on — to students and talk about the story behind the movie. DeSales Director of Development, Jack Gallagher said “We are trying to arrange a showing of the full movie at the Smith Opera House (Oct. 7) possibly open to students from all over the area for a nominal fee.” Reuttiger was born in Joliet, Ill., in 1948 into a family of steel mill workers. After graduating from high school, he worked at a power plant before and after serving in the Navy.After losing his best friends in an industrial accident at the power plant, Reuttiger decided to chase his dream of attending and playing football at Notre Dame.He was admitted to Holy Cross Junior College in South Bend, Ind., the home of the Fighting Irish. While attending Holy Cross, he worked as a groundskeeper at Notre Dame Stadium with the goal of being admitted to Notre Dame — and, in spite of his 5-foot-6, 165-pound frame, earning a place on the football team as a non-scholarship walk-on.It took him three semesters to be accepted at Notre Dame as a senior transfer student.He won a spot on the scout team and gained the respect of Fighting Irish players and coaches during his two seasons. He was allowed to dress for the last home game of his senior year against Georgia Tech. Late in the game, he was called onto the field and helped tackle the opposing quarterback.His teammates carried him off the field. To this day, he remains the only player ever to be carried off the Notre Dame Stadium grass.Filmmakers recast the scene with real fans during a break in the 1992 game against Boston College. Some 60,0000 fans stood and cheered as actor Sean Astin, who played Rudy in the movie, was carried off the field.Reuttiger earned a degree in sociology from Notre Dame in 1976, spent a year as a graduate assistant and went to work in insurance. Today, he works primarily as a motivational speaker and has co-authored several inspirational books.Jim DeVaney, a DeSales graduate and a local funeral home director, is chairing the “Rudy” committee.“We hope his visit will raise some money for DeSales and serve as inspiration to keep the school going,’’ DeVaney said. “He’s a very dynamic speaker, and we anticipate a big crowd. There are a lot of Notre Dame alumni and fans in upstate.”Meanwhile, DeSales officials will announce July 15 whether the school will remain open for 2011-12, its 100th year. The school nearly closed last year, but a “Save Our School” campaign wiped out a $400,000 deficit.Although DeSales ended the last school year with a small surplus, additional contributions are needed in order for it to open in September.

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