Stroke victim Egan fulfills his son's wish
By BRANT JAMES
© St. Petersburg Times, published November 1, 2000
Eight slow, little steps hardly noticed by a Senior Night crowd that had not quite filed into Central High School's football stadium last Friday night.
But those eight steps across the field strode miles across the heart of Central quarterback David Egan.
The Egans, having been introduced in turn with the families of the other seniors, were making their way across the field -- David flanking his mother, Eileen, who was pushing his father and namesake in a wheelchair.
Near mid-field, Egan's father, who has suffered two strokes in the past 14 months, beckoned for his wife to stop. It was time for him to fulfill a wish.
Egan, 57, can walk, but it's very slow. His son was willing to wait.
He had waited four years for his father to join him in celebrating perhaps his final home game by walking side by side across the field. After the struggles of the last year, he would wait no matter how long it took.
As father clung to son's arm, David Egan slowly rose and took those steps.
A few who noticed applauded as Egan gingerly returned to his chair. Central senior Jerry Daniels, whose family preceded the Egans, shook Mr. Egan's hand when they arrived at the sideline.
It didn't matter. The only ones who really mattered were standing there together.
"It was important to my son," David Egan said. "It wasn't hard for me at all. My son wanted me to if I could, and I could, so I wanted to do it for him."
The moment lasted no more than 30 seconds, but it forged an eternal memory for a kid who plays a game for the joy of his parents and has learned of life's frailty too young.
"It meant the world to me," said the younger Egan, unable to hold back tears.
"I've been through so much with this. I love my family more than anything," he said. "I'm just glad he was here and able to walk with me across the field."
No one ever could have been sure it would be possible.
Egan has suffered residual seizures since incurring his second stroke two months ago, but he is doing much better.
"We hope it's all over with," Eileen Egan said.
He will be there Friday night when the Bears face Crystal River.
The Egans, both of whom retired from Eastman-Kodak and moved to Spring Hill nine years ago, have grown accustomed to not taking moments for granted.
They are savoring the remaining games in a son's football career they have enjoyed since he was 9 years old.
"Oh, are we going to miss it," Eileen said. "This has been a great part of our lives."
The younger Egan had hoped a victory would be his thank-you to his father for making his wish possible.
South Sumter's 31-23 win ruined that wish, leaving Egan disconsolate afterwards.
"I wanted to win this game for him more than anything," he said.
His father, who watched from the front row of the bleachers in his wheelchair, didn't seem to mind that part.
"His mother and I both love it as much as he does, and we're sorry to see this was his last game here at Central," he said.
"But we couldn't be more proud of him. He's done one heck of a job as player and a son. We could not ask for anyone better."
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