Leaders are not born, they are made. And they are made just like anything else, through hard work. That's the price we'll have to pay to achieve that goal, or any goal.  The great, Helen Keller once said that character cannot be developed in ease and quiet. Only through experiences of trial and suffering can the soul be strengthened, vision cleared, ambition inspired and success achieved.

Here’s an amazing love and success story that we can learn from. Unlike the fictionized version that has been circulating in the Internet, the following is a true story.

Kurt Warner, a famous NFL quarterback has achieved prominence through vision, faith, hard work and perseverance. He married a woman who had two children, one a special needs child which makes his story more interesting.

Kurt and Brenda first met in 1992 at a country bar while he was Northern Iowa’s starting quarterback. After having been cut by the Green Bay Packers in 1994, Kurt worked in Hy-Vee grocery store in Cedar Falls for $5.50 an hour as a stockboy.

Brenda was a new check-out girl in that store. One morning Kurt brought Brenda roses and wanted to meet her youngsters. She’d told Kurt about her children the night before, so there was no dramatic surprise when she introduced her disabled son. They had a lengthy courtship. They married in 1997.

Brenda, who is four years older than Kurt, had two children by a previous marriage. Zachary who is three years older than his sister, Jesse Jo, was born in 1989 and does indeed have serious physical infirmities.

Although he was a perfectly healthy infant, when he was four months old, his father dropped him and in the blink of an eye, this previously healthy baby was suddenly clinging to life, suffered severe brain damage, and both of his retinas were ruptured. Zachary’s recovery has been long and arduous. Although legally blind he is able to walk and talk.

Kurt adopted Zachary and Jesse after his wedding to Brenda in 1997. The Warners have since added five more children to their brood: Kade in 1998, Jada in 2001, Elijah in 2003, and twins Sienna and Sierra in 2005.

Zachary enjoys an excellent relationship with his adoptive father. For instance, after the Rams victory in the NFC Championship game in 2000, 10-year-old Zachary presented Kurt with a homemade card done in Rams blue and gold. Inside, in childlike scrawl, it read: “You’re as good a dad as you are a quarterback!”

Zachary’s birth dad could hardly be described in similar fashion. His inability to come to terms with the injuries he’d caused upon his son led to the breakup of his marriage to Brenda. He left her when she was eight months pregnant with Jesse.

This is obviously a truly thrilling success story. Kurt and Brenda had endure tremendous obstacles to attain a better life. Just imagine all the heartbreak Kurt had endured trying to get into the NFL,and the many setbacks he had to weather along the way.  

Kurt presented as a free agent to the Green Bay Packers in 1994, was signed, then cut in same year. In 1997 he had a tryout scheduled with the Chicago Bears which fell through when an injury sustained during his honeymoon rendered him hors de combat. A venomous spider had bitten him on his throwing elbow.

He had to muck about in the Arena and European leagues before finally being taken on by the Rams in 1997 as their third-string quarterback. In 1999 he stepped in during the pre-season in place of injured Trent Green and began almost immediately to rewrite Ram’s history.

Brenda’s battle to make a life for herself and her two children after her first husband deserted her, was equally commendable. This former Marine had to return to her parents’ home when she was eight months pregnant with her second child and with a brain-damaged child. She completed her nursing training during this period, getting by with the help of food stamps and student loans. The death of her parents in Mountain View, Arkansas, in a tornado in 1996, a year after they had retired, compounded her agony.

Kurt’s throwing for a record 414 yards in his 23-16 Super Bowl XXXIV victory over the Tennessee Titans and being named that contest’s Most Valuable Player topped the previous record of 357 yards set by San Francisco’s Joe Montana in Super Bowl XXII and capped an astounding 4,353 yard, 41-touchdown regular season that won him league MVP honors.

As you can see, falling in love with and then marrying a gal who had two children, one of them a special needs child, was just part of this most remarkable story. In Super Bowl XXXVI, Kurt Warner led the St. Louis Rams in their guest for another victory; although they came up just short, Kurt Warner deservedly, was already the stuff of legends

Every great work, every big accomplishment, has been brought into reality through holding to the vision, and often just before the big achievement, comes apparent failure and discouragement.  Most of us give up just when we are about to achieve success. We quit on the one yard line. We give up at the last minute of the game, one foot from a winning touchdown. Let's remember that our greatest glory consists not in never falling, but in rising every time we fall.

By Tim Pedrosa


Destiny is not a matter of chance. It is a matter of choice: It is not a thing to be waited for, it is a thing to be achieved. ~William Jennings Bryan