All it took was a story to get Matt Galland thinking.
When Galland heard about a local football player who had been paralyzed during a Friday night game, it hit home. At the time, Galland was a running back for Brecksville-Broadview Heights High School and a longtime football player.
“That can happen to anyone,” he said. “That can even happen to myself.”
As a senior, Galland decided to use his position on the team to raise money for the local teen. He called it “Rush for a Cause” and got people to donate money for every yard he rushed that year: 1,366 total.
Less than two years later, Galland is away at college, but the nonprofit he thought would just raise a few thousand dollars is bigger than ever. That first year, they raised about $25,000, he said. Rush for a Cause supports athletes with catastrophic injuries, and the money is donated directly to the families.
He wants to see the organization expand, spreading from Ohio to other states and from the high school level to college and professional teams, a Susan G. Komen foundation for injured athletes, he said.
“We’re working,” he said. “It’s growing.”
Earlier this summer, Rush for a Cause held an event in Arizona. Locally, running backs have been continuing to sign up each year. And the organization’s annual “Family Sports Blitz” is growing, too. The fundraiser, which will be held on Aug. 18, has expanded in just one year to include even more sports, giving more athletes a way to get involved.
Head football coach Jason Black, said he’s proud to say Galland started the program in Brecksville-Broadview Heights and he’s surprised at how quickly it’s grown. He said he thought it was an “outstanding idea” when Galland suggested it, and commended his former player on his hard work and courage.
“The sky is the limit for the program's growth,” Black said in an email.
Since Galland is studying at the U.S. Air Force Academy in Colorado, much of that expansion has fallen to his mother, Debbie Galland.
“It’s definitely more than a full-time job,” she said.
One of her main responsibilities is reaching out to other organizations that can provide resources to the group and help with its expansion.
Galland, who said he might like to return to Rush for a Cause after college and his time in the military, said his mother is doing a “fantastic job” with the organization. He finds time to keep in touch, although basic training and school keep him busy.
Galland’s mom, Debbie, said she’s proud of her son, and impressed.
“I think it all boils down to character,” she said.
“As a parent, it makes you think, OK. We did something right.”