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Wake Up Wednesday - Charlie's Victory - Week 4

by James & Amy Lombardi

Despite all the support of those around them, Charlie’s strength continued to decrease. The everyday tasks now became a whole routine. They were often late to practices because it took longer and longer to get ready. The frustrations continued to increase as well and Charlie didn’t have enough left to keep going. Lucy continually reminded him that having him even with the adjustments they had to make was better than not having him at all. With that and the joy of coaching football, he kept fighting.

The football team still was the top and performing really well. Throughout the season they gained momentum and quite a bit of media attention. Producers created a movie called Quiet Victory. They all wanted to capture Charlie’s story and the success of the team. Charlie wanted the focus to be on the boys, not him, they were the talented ones making the effort to get to the top. With the media surrounding them, they entered the semifinals. By California rules of breaking a tie, their season came to an end that night. “While winning isn’t everything, it certainly beats losing.” Charlie’s attitude despite his health and everyone else's opinion was to start preparing for the next season.

Soon after one of the best seasons for the Los Gatos Charlie’s health took a turn. He was having more trouble with simply breathing. They had to put him on life support with a breathing tube and a ventilator. It was at this low point where his perspective on life changed. Charlie and Lucy were not getting the support from doctors to keep pushing the limits of what he was doing, like coaching football. It was slowly becoming more apparent that his time was soon going to come to an end. While in the hospitals with some of the nurses who had been caring for him the past few years, Charlie believed a miracle could happen. He accepted Christ in that moment and believe he was going to become the miracle.

The made yet another trip back to Hawaii to see their family. Charlie and Lucy continued to use humor to get through the hard moments and took each day as a gift. Coming back to California, Charlie wanted and needed to coach another football season. Media was there to capture it, they created a documentary, “One More Season”. Again Charlie only agreed to the special attention in hopes that it might just help one person. Even though Charlie was still on life support the team continued to fight with him. In 1985, they became the California Coast Sectional Champions!

After that season the school did not let Charlie continue coaching despite his desires. Through that year he was still engulfed in football watching his son Kale play. More and more people hear of their story and the Wedemeyer's popularity and respect grew throughout the community. They received many different awards and honors. The support and encouragement from the community was overwhelming for the family. They began to share their story offering hope. It was during this time they traveled and Lucy, reading Charlie’s lips, gave motivational speeches to keep fighting the good fight. It was in this phase when speaking at a church a man spoke up and made Charlie realized that a whole new game had begun.

“Charlie, you may not be the head coach at Los Gatos High School anymore. But you’re still coaching -- on a higher level, with more players. And you’re coaching them in the most important game of all, the game of life”

Lucy and Charlie wanted to encourage others going through similar struggles. Their faith made a difference in their perspective of this illness. Faith made a difference in not only their life, but their kids, and others who heard their story. The sad truth is that 7/10 people eventually get a divorce when a spouse is diagnosed with a terminal illness. Lucy demonstrated and upheld her marriage vows. Charlie kept fighting even being attached to a ventilator and having to communicate through his wife reading his lips. Offering hope to others gave them him. They were no longer just surviving through life; they were now living, learning and growing each day.

“Tomorrow is not promised to anyone. We’re all terminal. Every day is a gift. It’s up to us to make the most of it.”


Wake Up Wednesday - Charlie's Victory - Week 3

by James & Amy Lombardi

Continuing through learning about Charlie’s story it is about the discipline he had instilled in his life from a young age. Charlie always looked up to his father who had a foundation of a positive attitude no matter what. He faced every circumstance not as barriers but as challenges to overcome. They were always focused on family and sport. Lucy fit right into this foundation and their background supported them and encouraged them to do the same with facing ALS. She became his solid rock to encourage Charlie to keep pushing forward.

They learned how to enjoy the beauty around them and to appreciate the blessings they have. The Wedemeyer’s realized fast they can not stop living or celebrating life. They learned how to keep laughing. With that attitude, they faced ALS and started to try everything no matter what it took. Charlie quickly figured out that life seemed worth living for and continued to teach and coach football. He focused on something other than his illness to keep pushing forward. Perspective matters, the words and thoughts you have create the world around you.

The main challenge Charlie faced as he continued to get worse was not the adjustment but he resented how everything affected the lives of the people around him. It was more of an embarrassment of needing and having to ask for help. This especially was hard because he used to rely on and got reactions from what he physically was able to do through football.

With the regression of his health, Lucy had to step forward. Charlie could no longer teach but continued to coach despite the challenges. The assistant coaches were on board with it and Lucy joined the team as well. She would attend practices, learned the plays, and help Charlie communicate and move around the field. Others saw this as a burden that she had to take on but again her perspective pushed through. She saw this as an opportunity to learn more about his world and share in the passion of football with him in a whole new way, something that would have never of happened if it was not for ALS. The coaching staff and players respected him and showed their affection year after year by keeping him a part of the team. He was their head coach, no questions asked.

Facing the challenges and pushing through led to them eventually going public and being featured on a TV. At first, they were hesitant on moving forward and opening the door to their life to the public but figured it would be worth it. The teacher heart in him saw the opportunity to help at least one person which made it all worth wild. They saw the positive reaction and was overwhelmed but what their story meant to others. This gave them a new purpose of helping others through challenging situations. They had to daily push themselves to get more out of life, to step outside of their comfort zone. They became apart of others lives.


Wake Up Wednesday - Charlie's Victory - Week 2

by James & Amy Lombardi

This is an incredible story of the discipline and determination that Charlie faced each day with. The first part of this book explained their life before and during the diagnosis. They were just a normal couple that fell in love at a young age and lived life to the fullest. When Charlie was diagnosed with ALS that foundation of love and pursuing life was put to the full test. It was because this foundation that they were able to overcome the day to day struggles.

Lucy was a steady rock for Charlie. The day when they found out Charlie had ALS and was only given one year to live forced them to have a brand new perspective. Lucy realized, “the whole world doesn’t stop when they tell you your husband is dying.” This came as another challenge where they wanted and needed to be successful in overcoming this diagnosis of ALS.

Reading their story makes you realize the basic things you take for granted day to day. When the ALS progressed so did the challenges for normal activities. Just to get out of the house it would take 2 to 3 hours. That is with the experiences and a great system for doing everything. The little things such as shaving his face now became a long process. Lucy was there with him and caring for him every step of the way.

Through the challenges, they saw the importance of appreciating the things you have rather than on what is lost. It would be easy for them in those daily moments to get angry and bitter but they decided early on that this was not going to let their life stop. For that reason, Charlie continued to coach. Everyone could see the joy that coaching football brought to Charlie’s life and that it gave him purpose. Instead of focusing on what he was unable to do he focused on what brought him joy and celebrated how he could still do what he loved, even if there had to be modifications.

Lucy and Charlie have such a positive perspective that became contagious. Everyone could learn something from their attitude and approach to each daily struggle. Everything around you does not stop when something bad happens. It is at that time you need to figure out how to keep moving forward, hopefully, that answer comes fast. Tackle each day as they come and make life what you want it to be.

Learn more about their story here:

Wake Up Wednesday - Charlie's Victory - Week 1

by James & Amy Lombardi


The book for the month of June hits close to home for James. Charlie’s Victory is an autobiography of his high school football coach! This book overflows with Charlie slogan, “I live to give others hope.” Charlie Wedemeyer was an incredible football player from Hawaii who ended up playing at Michigan State. After his college career, he became a high school football coach in California. In the 80’s Charlie Wedemeyer was diagnosed with ALS (Amyotrophic Lateral Sclerosis) also known as Lou Gehrig’s disease. Meaning the nerve cells that controlled all his muscles were slowing dying. The life expectancy of ALS patients is around three years, the doctors gave Charlie one year to live, but that never stopped him.

Charlie never let ALS take over his life and he, along with his wife Lucy, decided to make the most of it. Even with the terminal illness slowing taking over he continued to coach and live life to the fullest. At the age of 40, Charlie coached his last football game at Los Gatos High School. At that point, years after the diagnoses, Charlie could no longer walk, so Lucy drove him in a golf cart; he could no longer talk. so Lucy read his lips and shared with the players. When he eventually had to go on life support, his team took the California’s Central Coast Championship. 

“Death is but the conclusion. It doesn’t really matter when or how it comes. What counts is the living we squeeze in until then.”

Charlie lived a full life and traveled the world as a motivational and inspirational speaker, the majority of the time with Lucy reading his lips. There have been movies and documentaries sharing their story. This book continues those stories from their perspective. It redefines marriage and commitment and shows hope. This is a story directly from Charlie and Lucy that shows how committed they were to embrace the challenges that came their way.

Displaying blog entries 1-4 of 4




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