Notre Dame legend wows the crowd at local fundraiser

Yaneek Smith

Press Sports Editor

“Parker, you’re the reason we’re here tonight. It’s such a privilege to be here. When I was asked to speak, I didn’t know about Parker’s Purpose. You have taken adversity and become a beacon of life.”
Those were the words Notre Dame legend Brady Quinn had for Parker Inks at a local fundraiser held June 21 for the Fremont foundation, Parker’s Purpose.
The event, which was held at Ole Zim’s Wagon Shed in Gibsonburg, featured Quinn speaking, detailing his life as a collegiate and professional football player, and then taking questions from the audience.
Inks, 25, created Parker’s Purpose in May, 2008 when he was in third grade, following a tremendous hardship that saw him nearly lose his life three times two months before that.
On March 15, of that year, Inks was life-flighted to St. Vincent’s Hospital due to respiratory problems. His stay lasted 30 days and he was hooked up to a ventilator for most of that time. His diagnosis was viral pneumonia and a collapsed lung.
During his first three weeks in the hospital, Inks almost lost his life on three occasions, but he recovered, checking out of the hospital on April 14. He had a tracheostomy tube put in to assist with his breathing and to this day, he still has one lung that is slightly collapsed.
Inks, who has muscular dystrophy, uses a wheelchair and is unable to move his body, except for his head and his hands slightly.
The community rallied to support him and help him with his medical bills, and the money that was left over was used by Inks to start the foundation.
Today, the graduate of St. Joseph Central Catholic and Bowling Green State University is active with the organization, which is growing and creating additional revenue streams. Inks, who is integral to the foundation, also speaks to various organizations and is employed part time at the Fremont Recreation Center.
Thus far, the foundation has raised more than $1 million while giving out $850,000 to help hundreds of families pay for medical bills.
“When we first started, we were working hard to get our name out there and have families apply (for assistance). Fast forward 16 years, and we will have upwards of 400 grant applications in this year alone. Unfortunately, we can’t help them all but because of corporate sponsors like Express Professionals, McNaughton McKay, Welty Financial, Walmart, and BG graphics, we have a consistent revenue stream,” said the president of Parker’s Purpose, Todd Drusback, who estimates that the fundraiser netted between $25,000 to $30,000. “In addition, we have our auction, golf outing, as well as being the charity beneficiary of the Glass City Wine Fest. We also receive annual donations from many stakeholders not mentioned. We do need more funding because we would like to help more families.”
Quinn, who played quarterback, became a Notre Dame legend after starting for four years before graduating in 2007.
As a senior, Quinn won a number of prestigious awards, including the Maxwell Award, the Johnny Unitas Golden Arm Award and the Sammy Baugh Trophy.
He said he remembers the losses and the interceptions most because he tried to learn from them, and he encouraged others to do the same.
Quinn wound up being drafted by the Cleveland Browns but had the misfortune of playing for a bevy of head coaches and offensive coordinators, including on five teams, and was never able to get his career on track.
He graduated from Coffman High School in Dublin, a suburb of Columbus, and narrowed his final three colleges to Notre Dame, Ohio State and Michigan.
He also talked about Notre Dame’s heartbreaking loss to USC in 2005, a game known as the “Bush Push,” which might’ve kept the Fighting Irish from winning the national championship; and the Fiesta Bowl, which took place later in the season, where Notre Dame lost to the Buckeyes.
“I thought he was outstanding,” Drusback said of Quinn’s speech. “I loved his interaction with the audience and how he shared his story and passions. We’ve had some really good speakers in the past and he ranks right up there with the best.”
Quinn works for CBS Sports HQ and is also a college football analyst for Big Noon Kickoff on FOX.
Today, he lives in Fort Lauderdale, Florida, and is married to former USA Olympic gymnast Alicia Sacramone, who earned a silver medal with the team in the 2008 Summer Olympics. The couple has four children.
Quinn’s sister, Laura, is married to Ohio State legend A.J. Hawk, and his other sister, Kelly, is married to Colorado Avalanche defenseman Jack Johnson.
Quinn’s father served in Vietnam and his grandfather is a World War II veteran. He said his family’s service motivated him to found a charity, The 3rd and Goal Foundation, in 2011. The foundation has three missions:
• Operation Home — making homes handicap accessible for wounded veterans.
• Operation Joy — providing gifts to those military families in need.
• Operation Education — providing educational platforms to help those veterans transitioning from their service to start, continue, or finish their education. He and his wife are co-chairs of the foundation.
Learn more at


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