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Gene Stallings – A Courageous Inspiration

March 9, 2011

Gene Stallings is no stranger to adversity. Whether on or off the field Gene has faced and conquered many challenges with courage and determination that is inspiring.

Gene began his coaching career in 1958 as an assistant under Bear Bryant at Alabama. His first head coaching job came at the age of 29 when he was named the head coach at Texas A&M. He coached the Aggies for seven seasons and compiled a record of 27-45-1, including a Southwest Conference title in 1967.

In 1972, Gene was hired by Tom Landry as an assistant coach for the Dallas Cowboys, where he remained for 14 years. In 1986, he was named the head coach of the St. Louis Cardinals, where he compiled a 23-34-1 record in three seasons.

Gene later returned to the college ranks in 1990 when he was hired by the University of Alabama. In his third year, Gene coached the Crimson Tide to a National Championship after defeating Miami in the Sugar Bowl, 34-13. In six years at Alabama, Stallings compiled a 62-25 record.

A man deeply respected by players and fans for his toughness, it is hard not to be awed by this legendary coach. In addition to the games and championships won, Gene has been inducted into the Alabama and Texas Sports Halls of Fame, Texas A&M Hall of Fame, and the Gator Bowl and Cotton Bowl Halls of Fame. But it is the love he has for his family that gives us a window into the true grit of his character.

On June 11, 1962, Gene’s wife, and high school sweetheart, Ruth Ann gave birth to their son, John Mark Stallings. Johnny was diagnosed with Down Syndrome and doctors said that he wouldn’t live longer than a year or two because of a severe heart defect. Doctors also suggested that they send Johnny to an institution, something that Ruth Ann and Gene would not even consider.

In the face of all the challenges, Johnny thrived under the care of his family, especially his doting sisters who were always there to teach and protect him. As he got older, Johnny became a permanent addition to which ever team and staff Gene was coaching and his courage and attitude had a positive impact on all who came in contact with him.

Watch an NBC Dateline interview with the Stallings about their son Johnny.

John Mark Stallings died on August 2, 2008 leaving behind a legacy of caring, courage and inspiration for all. Two facilities at the University of Alabama have been named for John Mark Stallings, the Stallings Center that serves as home to the RISE Center for young children with disabilities and the equipment room in the University of Alabama football building. Gene wrote a book about raising his son called Another Season: A Coach’s Story of Raising an Exceptional Son.

The entire Stallings family was again faced with adversity when his youngest daughters’ child was diagnosed with type 1 diabetes. Anna Kate was only 11 months old when she was diagnosed. Drawing from the strength and inspiration of their family, after the diagnosis Martha Kate and Keith Gunn knew they had to do something to fight this disease. Since then, the Gunn family has been involved with and supporters of JDRF, engaging the Waco community and raising awareness and funds for diabetes.

Don’t miss your chance to hear the inspirational story of Gene Stallings and his family at the 2011 Dream Gala. Tickets are still available but are going fast, download the Dream Gala Invitation and send your RSVP Card to the JDRF Dallas Office to reserve your seats or table today!

Dream Gala – Saturday, March 26, 2011
Chantilly Ballroom, Hilton Anatole
Cocktail & Silent Auction – 6 pm
Dinner & Live Auction – 8 pm
Black Tie

Corporate Honoree
Dr Pepper Snapple Group

Celebrity Honoree
Bret Michaels

Entertainment
Julianne Hough

Dream Gala Chairs
Dr. Arlene Jacobs & Allen Feltman

For more information you can download the Dream Gala Info and Partnership Opportunities Brochure or contact the JDRF Dallas Office at (214) 373-9808.

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To learn more about the JDRF Dallas chapter, visit our JDRF Dallas website!

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