High school sweethearts Jeremy and Jennifer Williams kept their love alive while attending separate colleges. A football star at the University of Memphis, Jeremy knew his calling was to become a coach after graduation. Jeremy has been the head football coach at Greenville High School for the past eight years and is currently the school’s athletic director as well. In 2005, Jeremy saw a doctor after having some trouble moving his hand. After three grueling years of testing, Jeremy was diagnosed with ALS, or Lou Gehrig’s disease – a fatal, progressive disease affecting nerve cells in the brain and spinal cord which interferes with the brain’s ability to control muscle movement. Jeremy has trouble walking and will soon be confined to a wheelchair, but he continues to coach his team, has only missed one practice to date, and led his team to an 11-0 season and into the playoffs last fall. His determination and motivation in the face of adversity has given hope and inspiration to the entire community.
In 2002, Jeremy and Jennifer were told that there soon-to-arrive second child, Jacob, would be born with Spina Bifida, have severe mental disabilities, and may never be able to walk or talk. Jacob is paralyzed from the waist down, confined to a wheelchair, and has had countless surgeries on his brain, eyes, hips, and muscles. Despite the mountain of obstacles he faces each day, Jacob is an inspiration to everyone around him and has baffled doctors with his exceptional intelligence and positive attitude. Although he cannot play football, he attends every one of his father’s games and cheers on the team. Jacob also participates in a “Special Needs Rodeo,” which Jennifer was instrumental in organizing for her son and other local children with disabilities.