When I was a sophomore in college, I was very active in the Newman Catholic Campus Ministry. One of the most memorable things from that year, and really, from my 5 years at school, was watching the movie “Cinderella Man.”
I had never seen it before, even though it had come out a couple years before. One Saturday night, the guy I really liked told me people were getting together at the Newman Center to watch it. Of course, I was in! Any chance to “accidentally” end up sitting next to him... :) Part way though the movie, the DVD player stopped working in the common room we were watching the movie. Not to fret though, someone went up to the priest’s apartment and asked if he would mind letting us watch it on his TV. Keep in mind this was at about 10pm on a Saturday and he had just gotten home from being gone for several days. He was fine with us coming up, he was just going to sit in the dining room while we watched in the living room since he had work to catch up on.
For those of you unfamiliar with the movie (which starts Russell Crowe and Renee Zellweger), I highly recommend watching it, but here is a little bit of storyline information, courtesy of imdb.com:
During the Great Depression, a common-man hero, James J. Braddock--a.k.a. the Cinderella Man--was to become one of the most surprising sports legends in history. By the early 1930s, the impoverished ex-prizefighter was seemingly as broken-down, beaten-up and out-of-luck as much of the rest of the American populace who had hit rock bottom. His career appeared to be finished, he was unable to pay the bills, the only thing that mattered to him--his family--was in danger, and he was even forced to go on Public Relief. But deep inside, Jim Braddock never relinquished his determination. Driven by love, honor and an incredible dose of grit, he willed an impossible dream to come true. In a last-chance bid to help his family, Braddock returned to the ring. No one thought he had a shot. However Braddock, fueled by something beyond mere competition, kept winning. Suddenly, the ordinary working man became the mythic athlete.
The next morning before Mass, I was reading the priest’s weekly column in the bulletin. As I started reading, I could not help but laugh a little to myself. The column was about the amazing feat of strength the “Cinderella Man” must have had. He risked everything he had for his family and his dream. He took his personal determination and made an example of it to his children, showing them hard work does pay off.
The priest then commented that every woman deserves a hero. She needs someone who will take care of her, no matter the cost. James Braddock was willing to give up his dreams of boxing and take a job to pay the bills. He bore the shame of public assistance. Not to ruin part of the movie, but he even had to send his children to his wife’s sister’s house in the country because he could not afford to keep them in the city with him and his wife.
Every hero needs motivation, something to work for. This was the push James needed. He flew into action and recovered in an astounding way. He was the hero for his family.
Once I finished reading the article, I vowed I would never settle for less than my hero. My friends and I joked about it at first… who was it going to be? Superman? Batman? Underdog? I had no idea at the time what my Captain America looked like; I just knew I was going to find him. Several years and a Green Lantern or two later, I found mine.
Growing up, I always imagined I would have a Cinderella moment. In a few short days I will get exactly that… a moment with my “Cinderella Man.”
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