Ex-Eagle Reilly visits DelTech students

Former Philadelphia Eagles player Kevin Reilly visits with Delaware Technical Community College students in Dover. (Submitted photo)

DOVER — On Tuesday, Oct. 23 and Wednesday, Oct. 24, former Philadelphia Eagle, Wilmington native, and cancer survivor Kevin Reilly spoke to Delaware Tech students at each campus location about “consistent persistence” and tackling life obstacles during Commit to Complete Week.

Mr. Reily took students through his early years after being drafted by the Miami Dolphins in 1973 and going on to play for the Philadelphia Eagles, where he captained the special teams.

In 1976, he was diagnosed with a rare tumor. He underwent an intense surgery that removed his left arm, shoulder, and five ribs, altering his body and life forever and forcing Mr. Reilly to end his professional football career.

During his talk with students, he spoke to the many tasks in which people told him he would never be able to do after a life-altering surgery such as tying a tie. Students were amazed when he continued to tell his story while untying and tying his tie.

In addition, he spoke about the many people who inspired his life such as Rocky Bleier, former Pittsburgh Steelers player, who pushed him to achieve the unachievable. Bleier also instilled in him the principle of “consistent persistence,” to always learn from failures and pick yourself back up after a loss.

His words of encouragement resonated on a deeper level with the students as the week in which Mr. Reilly spoke was “Commit to Complete Week.”

The annual week signifies a time period in which students pledge to commit to obtaining their degree and walking across the stage at graduation. his inspiring determination motivated several students as life curveballs can oftentimes divert a student’s journey to graduation.

“I was very inspired on how he stayed motivated throughout all of his hardships,” said Alex Nieves, Occupational Therapy Assistant student. “He stuck with it and still has a great life.”

Beyond perseverance, Mr. Reilly spoke about his faith. He echoed how many feel in today’s world; feeling divided. He recalled a moment that immensely inspired him, and took place minutes before his life-altering surgery. While lying on a stretcher waiting to be moved to the operating room, he was surrounded by many other individuals waiting for similar surgeries.

Despite all backgrounds, ethnicities, and religious beliefs, they gathered together, held hands, and said a prayer. “We all got along. For that 20-minute period, we were all brothers and sisters,” Mr. Reilly said..

“He inspires people to push to do the impossible, to never quit or think you won’t be able to achieve it. His story was inspiring and motivating,” said Carmen Black, Elementary Education student.

Students gathered after the presentation to meet and takes photos with him. He signed numerous copies of his book, “Tackling Life,” which he offered to Delaware Tech students for a discounted price. To learn more about Mr. Reilly, his book, and speaking arrangements, visit www.kreilly.com.

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