INDIANAPOLIS, Ind. (January 22, 2016) -
A month and a half ago, Monrovia Bulldogs head coach Kevin Hutchins and his team made school history, winning the school's first ever state title. The championship, was first and foremost earned for the name on the front of the jersey but also, in part, for the name underneath the jersey.
Before sectionals began coach Hutchins and his wife received a phone call that would begin the hardest few weeks of their life.
"We found out he had a brain bleed, that's what we knew at first," Coach Hutchins said. "You know, it was just...scary. "
Kevin's brother-in-law, Michael McGuire, a former football player for Bloomington High School South and an Indiana University graduate, had been rushed to the hospital with swelling in his brain and would spend the next 11 weeks fighting for his life.
"He woke up in the morning and I couldn't figure out what he was saying, his speech was very garbled," Michael's wife Megan said, recalling the day she knew something wasn't right.
"I was looking at him like, 'What are you saying? I'm not sure what you're saying?' And he was looking at me like, 'Well why don't you understand what I'm saying?'"
Michael was diagnosed with dural veonus sinus thrombosis; in lamen terms, it was a blood clot, deep in the brain.
"When you hear something like that it's hard to deal with the fact that this is a life or death situation," Coach Hutchins said.
For the remainder of the season, Coach Hutchins had the challenging task of splitting time between being a coach and being a supportive brother at the hospital, all in the midst of trying to lead his team to a state championship
"My team was very aware of what was going on. They could see it on me, I mean it wore on me," Coach Hutchins recalled of the postseason. "I wouldn't have been able to do what I did, if I didn't have a great group of assistant coaches who understood that there were certain times that I couldn't be there."
By the time Monrovia played for the state title, Michael wasn’t able to be at the game but he was aware enough to watch the game from the hospital.
"It was really great to have that to focus on," Michael's wife said. "We were so happy to wear our shirts when they won."
"My kids were asking me at home, 'Dad can't Uncle Mike come to the game?' And I had to tell him guys, right now it's just not a good idea." Coach Hutchins said.
Kevin had promised Michael, that if they won, he would bring the trophy to the hospital for one of his most loyal supporters to hold.
"It was a pretty cool feeling to be able to walk in with it." Kevin recalled. "The nurses looked at me pretty funny carrying a huge trophy in there."
"They wore their 'Michael Strong' shirts under their jerseys and their coaching gear," Megan said. "On the back is Michael's favorite bible verse, Jeremiah 29:11."
Michael is now out of the hospital and is still in the recovery process. He can say a select few words, such as yes and no, hi and bye but he has a long way to go to regain full communication.
"Visual pictures along with words are a good idea, so Michael works on matching the pciture with the word and then we work on making sounds," Megan explained.
The family has set up index cards around the house with titles of certain objects written on the card. Next to the kitchen table, a kleenex box or the television the card has the title of the object, so that Michael can start to correspond words with things.
With the brain injury Michael has had, he can't work. His wife has to be there 24 hours a day to care for him.
In support of the McGuires, friends in the community have set up a Michael Strong benefit auction, taking place in Bloomington on Friday January 29th to help raise money for Megan and Michael to live.
For anyone looking to donate things for the auction or attend the auction, below is the flyer for the event. The Michael Strong Benefit is from 7:00-10:00 PM at The Warehouse at 1525 Rogers St. The family also has a Go Fund Me page that you can find here.
For any additional information on how you can help, email firstname.lastname@example.org