Jeremiah Minyard and Anthony Cortazzo have proven that over and over as they've dealt with personal struggles, and that's why they are the 2014 grand prize winners of "Heart of a Giant."
Presented by the New York Giants, Hospital for Special Surgery and USA Football, the program recognizes players from the Tri-State area who embody what it means to possess the "Heart of a Giant." Players who display commitment, determination, will, character and teamwork as part of their respective high school football teams are honored through the program.
Minyard of Lincoln High School (Yonkers, N.Y.) and Cortazzo of Pascack Hills High School (Montvale, N.J.) embody all of the above and were recognized by the Giants during the last week of the 2014 season. Leading up to the final game, they were welcomed by the team to the Quest Diagnostics Training Center, where they watched practice and led the post-practice huddle with coach Tom Coughlin.
"With an incredible work ethic and great passion and love for the game of football, they have overcome physical challenges that most people would not even consider playing the game," Coughlin told his players with Minyard and Cortazzo by his side. "That's why they received this award, and that's why they're with us today."
Each grand prize winner received a $5,000 equipment grant for their high school football team in addition to a "Heart of a Giant" trophy and on-field recognition during the Giants' final home game.
When Minyard was born, he was not breathing, and after six hours of oxygen being pumped manually into his lungs, he was put on a respirator with a possibility of not living another day. But he overcame, as did Cortazzo, who on March 19, 2014 collapsed on the high school track after his heart stopped. With the help of athletic trainer Steven Papa, Cortazzo was revived by an automated external defibrillator (AED) and later diagnosed with anomalous aortic origin of a coronary artery.
For more on their stories and the program, CLICK HERE