MINNEAPOLIS (WCCO) — Brian Howard was honored this fall, and rightly so.
He played three sports at Simley High School. He’s coached numerous youth football teams, and he’s refereed high school football.
He’s given back, and now he’s getting back — for a very good reason.
Brian sits, waiting for his introduction into the Simley High School Hall of Fame. His friends, who used to be his teammates in three sports, are also there.
“All these classmates and friends, they’re like 60 people there, all there,” Brian said. “Of course, back in our old home field, it was just surreal. It was really a lot of fun.”
The class of 1981 member was an all-around athlete who learned to love sports, and wanted to give it back. He later helped coach and start youth teams.
“Football’s the ultimate team sport, right? You get to orchestrate 11 people to do the same thing on the field to make a goal accomplished,” he said. “Friday night, you go out there with a bunch of guys. You get a crew and you’d work throughout the season with them. I really miss the camaraderie of that. And of course whenever you get those Friday night lights, the smell of hot dogs and popcorn and the band out there playing.”
Howard is no longer is able to coach, or referee, or work as a sales executive in a Fortune 500 company. He has multiple sclerosis. Diagnosed in 2006, the disease progresses.
“Right now, he’s a quadriplegic, and we can tell his vocal cords are now leaving him, and his swallowing is getting harder,” said his wife, Marcia Howard. “I worry.”
So does he, spending his days not nearly the participant he once was, or wants to be.
“When you’re out for dinner and your buddy has to feed you and stuff, boy, that’s really tough,” Brian said.
That’s why this night is important; to be with his teammates, his friends, forever.
“Oh my gosh, it is fabulous! Life-long friends. It’s a great, great group of guys. And the stories just get better every year,” Brian said.
And this is where he reminds the world what matters.
“It’s huge. Actually, it’s our number one attitude is positive,” Marcia said. “And you know who we get that from is Brian. He has taught myself and our two children, Nate and Hailey, that positiveness can go such a long way.”
There is much he does not know about what’s next. What he knows is he will live every day, and hope and pray for the best.
“It’s scary not knowing … the future,” he said. “I got two, just wonderful kids, and you want to, you know, one day they’re going to find great significant others, and you want to be there for the wedding, be able to give the speeches, dances, grandchildren and everything. Not knowing is hard.”
And he is still thankful, because it’s been quite a journey.
“There is goodness in every day,” Marcia said. “We are very blessed.”