Jacksonville Jaguars Center Brad Meester: An Inspirational Role Model

Jacob WaringAnalyst IIIAugust 7, 2011

Over the years, my opinion and faith in regards to athletes being suitable role models have decreased with each scandalizing incident.

Tiger Woods' infidelity with dozens of women, Rick Tocchet financing a nationwide sports gambling ring, Micheal Vick with his sickening hobby of dog fighting and Ben Roethlisberger with his sexual assault allegations. 

The various bad sportsmanship through various sport organizations only contribute to diminishing respect that fans give to many athletes. There was a time when it was a rarity to hear of athletes as flawed heroes. The Internet and social media has made it possible to have an eagle-eye view upon athletes doing shameful and at times criminal activities. 

By chance I stumbled upon a story that tugged my heart-strings and caused my eyes to be near the eruption of tears.

Brad Meester, a center for the Jacksonville Jaguars, witnessed a miracle of a little boy walking after obtaining a serious illness. That little boy took a few steps and hugged Meester whose been an inspiration and valuable supporter to the family. Once the hug connected, his fellow teammates cheered and the little boy's mother cried tears of happiness. 

This inspiring story started with a harrowing beginning on December 31 where that little boy suffered a 35-minute seizure caused by a rare form of encephalitis. That little boy's name is Luke Akerstrom and regardless of being in a wheelchair he was hellbent on learning to walk again.

He even told his mother, "I have to walk because Jaguars don't roll, they run."

That's a lot of heart, strength and determination coming from a six-year-old boy. 

The recovery process happened at the Brooks Rehabilitation Hospital and it's the place where the trio of Meester, his wife Jamie and Jaguars communications director Ryan Robinson met with Luke. Simply Meester was astonished by Luke's drive to walk again and personally felt a connection as a father as his daughter is the same age as Luke.

The oncoming weeks, Meester and his family were cheerleaders for Luke during his grueling hours of physical therapy.  Meester stood witness to Luke undergoing the excruciating process of a spinal tap. He helped Luke's family by visiting him consistently and that was enough to keep Luke going.

Meester didn't have to do all that. He could have just showed up, said encouraging words and left some signed sports memorabilia.  Today's athletes are normally selfish, self-centered and caring only for the bottom line.  Meester took time out of his own personal life and spent time with a child that wasn't even his own, which shows he's a class act.

Meester standing by this child's hardships resulted in an amazing moment of Luke taking a few steps to hug a man who'll be this young boy's hero and role modal for the rest of his life.

This inspirational event genuinely moved me in such an emotional way to where I have hoped that there are more athletes like Brad Meester who'll be the standard of the sports role model. 

This new-found hope has open my jaded heart to believing that there still some good people within many sports organizations.

I have Brad Meester and Luke Akerstrom to thank for that as they truly accomplished something special.