This is the latest article on my brother Eddie and his passion for high school football in the face of his disabilities. The article failed to mention the moving across the country, the details of medical mishaps, the epileptic seizures. Those details are for my dad who finished a rough draft about my amazing brother.
Arapahoe Herald /Tuesday, December 6, 2011
SPORTS Football manager inspires others with dedication by Maggie Hurlbut
Arapahoe Herald Every fall, students and parents crowd the stands for Friday night football. Seventy-eight players line the field along with coaches, managers and trainers. Along with these typical team members is
someone distinctly unique to Arapahoe. Manager Eddie Benavides has been with the team for eleven years. Benavides graduated from Arapahoe High School in 2001 and started managing a year later. “Honestly, I can’t imagine Arapahoefootball without Eddie,” junior Taven Sparks said. “There is something special about football and the camaraderie that you develop as a team. Our coaches often refer to us asa football family. Eddie is a very important member of that family. It just wouldn’t be the same without him.”
In addition to being an avid football fan and a crucial member of the Arapahoe football family, Benavides has prevailed over many physical challenges, disabilities and illnesses through his entire life.“I’ve had so many surgeries counting back from when I was a baby,” Benavidessaid. “We lost count at surgery number 25. That was when I was a baby.”
Benavides’s father has been with Eddie’s since the beginning and has had a frontrow view of all that he has been through “Eddie was born with multiple syndromes; a medical label for ailments,”Benavides’s father, Andy Benavides, said. “The first is Craniosynostosis. This ailment is associated with Eddie’s head. Simply stated,this is a deformity of Eddie’s skull. All of thesutures in Eddie’s head were closed at birth;that’s right, no ‘baby’ soft spots. The onl treatment for this syndrome is surgery.” “Eddie also has Arthrogryposis, a condition used to describe a number of rare conditions associated with joints and abnormally developed muscles. Eddie has locked elbows, clubfeet, and his wrists aredeformed. His wrists would not allow his
fingers to point outward, only downward.”
“We would eventually learn that addressing this syndrome would consist of multiple medical treatments and surgeries. According to his doctors in Phoenix, Eddie was the first human being to have these syndromes simultaneously. They said, ‘Mr. and Mrs. Benavides, after additional testing and evaluation, we are recommending that Eddie be institutionalized. Eddie’s brain activity is close to being nonexistent and there are strong indications that he will be in a state of vegetation for the entirety of his life.’”
Benavides has been living with his conditions since he was a baby. Even more impressive is that he continues to overcomemany challenges in his day-to-day life.“As far as physical challenges I’ve overcome, I’ve overcome life itself,” Benavides said. “From surgeries I’ve dealt with since I was a baby to my disabilities I have to deal with every day. Those two challenges have had a huge effect on my day-to-day life.Due to my disabilities, I have found ways to adjust to everyday life.”
Benavides’s attitude towards all of his conditions is remarkable. “These challenges have helped mebecome a stronger person because of my attitude,” Benavides said. “Most importantly, as a believer and Christian, God has helped me become a stronger person through my challenges with everyday life.” Benavides’s presence at games is somethingcoaches and players value deeply. “He knows the layout of where we want to position different drills and things like that,” head coach Mike Campbell said. “On game day, he’s just our biggest fan and supporter more than anything. He inspires us all.”
“Benavides means so much to the team,” Sparks said. “Although he isn’t out there coaching or playing, his presence at practice and games is invaluable. He is such an inspiration to the players and coaches on the team. If a practice or game isn’t going the way we would like, Eddie helps us put the game of football in perspective.” “Eddie is part of the Arapahoe football family. He is sad when we lose and thrilledwhen we win. Eddie is a true Warrior inspiring others through his positive attitude and passion for the game. More importantly, he has shown us how to overcome struggle and find joy in life.”
Benavides’s amazing journey and perseverance inspires players and coaches alike.“I think that he’s just a good reminder; he puts everything in perspective,” Campbell said. “Times get tough in football. You can get hurt, you can be tired and fatigued and want to quit, and when you see Eddie and everything that he’s been through, you wouldn’t dare quit.”Benavides’s commitment and love for Arapahoe football goes past his dedication and presence on the field. “His involvement with the football program cannot be put to words,” Andy Benavides said. “Simply stated, Eddie loves Arapahoe. His room is yellow and black; his clothes must include yellow and black. If it were possible, his briefs would be yellow and black. He fell and broke his wrist about a month ago. Immediately, Eddie requested a yellow and black cast.”
Benavides’s passion for the program sets the standards for the players’ performance. “Eddie is very competitive and he desires that our football players would be just as competitive,” Andy Benavides said. Benavides uses his journey to inspire the players to give their all and to keep going no matter what happens. At the game against Chatfield on Oct. 29, Benavides gavethe pregame speech.“He showed us pictures of the painful surgery he had to go through,” Sparks said. “His willingness to fight for his life every dayand persevere through such a difficult situation made each and every player realize that we must live each day to the fullest. Eddie reminds all of us to be thankful for our ability to go out and play the game of football.
In his speech, he talked about letting a bad play go. Eddie said you can’t let what happened in the past slow you down. He said you must move on and keep fighting.” After seeing what Benavides has beenthrough and how no matter what he continues to persevere and have a positive attitudemakes the players and coaches grateful forthings normally taken for granted.“He’s a person that is grateful for everyday he gets,” Campbell said. “So if you have some downs, which are going to happen during the course of any season, he just puts a smile on your face right away. And it’s pretty tough to feel sorry for yourself whenyou know what he deals with and what an average day looks like [for him].”
Benavides’s dedication and commitment to the team is inspiring to everyone who meets him and without him the Arapahoe football family would not be complete. “I do it for the love of the sport and the dedication to the school,” Benavides said. “Being able to be part of the school’s football program at the school you graduated from is a blast. Next year being season 12 and being told I have a lifetime contract working at Arapahoe. What else can you ask for?”
“Who knows what’s coming next year?
Arapahoe HS and the whole Arapahoe football program are like another family to me personally. I am nowhere close to calling it quits. I’m planning on continuing working at Arapahoe for a long time,” Benavides said.
Lanius @ wplSports.com
- Kathy (杜 言 艷)
- Yilan, Taiwan
- I'm a Social Studies teacher and single mom from Colorado and have lived here for 9 years. Taiwan is an excellent base for us explore Asia, while living in relative (gun free) safety, while benefiting from a cheap and efficient national health care system. The people are amazing too. I have friendships that are 14 years old and I'm always making new ones.