How much is a touchdown worth? Six points right? For Tommy Kirchhoff, it’s worth a whole lot more than that.
Tommy is Trinity High School’s quarterback. He wears number 14 just like his father.
“It means a lot,” Tommy said. “It’s an honor for me. Growing up, I always wanted to wear that number. Sometimes an older kid had it and I couldn’t, but I’d always ask if I could have it.”
Tommy’s dad, Tom Kirchhoff led Cedar Cliff to a state finals appearance in 1988. He later went on to star at Lafayette College and even had a brief career with the Philadelphia Eagles.
“I think that influenced me to love football as much as I did, playing all the time. He never forced us to do it,” Tommy said.
Tommy is the oldest of four. Everything changed for his family in 2010.
“They call my brother and I down; they were crying,” Tommy recalled. “We talked for two hours about what the disease was because I had never heard of it at the time.”
Tom had been diagnosed with ALS, also known as Lou Gehrig’s disease. Over the next five years, he’d lose the ability to walk, speak, swallow, and breath.
“Going from playing football every day in the backyard and the living room to him not being able to throw – it was tough,” Tommy said.
“You’re essentially trying to help someone through the dying process while still living,” said Tommy’s mom and Tom’s wife Staci.
Six months later, Staci would discover she had stage three melanoma.
“You’re trying to deal with your own health, your husband’s health, and your children and their mental health, which is ultimately the most important thing,” Staci said.
Staci was able to win her battle with cancer. Unfortunately, right now, ALS is a fight that can’t be won.
“I didn’t realize how hard it was going to be when he actually did pass,” Tommy said.remembers.
The day was March 10, 2015.
“It was tough. You just see his breathing machine going, but he’s not moving,” Tommy recalled. “You take off the breathing machine, he’s like shaking, and then all of a sudden, he stops shaking, and that was tough to look at.”
Which brings us to today. Tommy’s best friend is Cedar Cliff quarterback Bobby Whalen. He grew up with Tommy. The two are practically blood.
“He might be closer than some people I’m blood-related to, so it was really hard,” Bobby said. “I spent a lot of time at their house.”
Bobby’s dad played football with Tom at Cedar Cliff. After everything the family had been through, he wanted to help.
“I was just going to do it by myself and then I thought about it. Me and Tommy are both quarterbacks, we’re both 14, and it’s for his dad, so I definitely wanted him to be a part of it,” Bobby said.
“He said I want to do something where people can donate money, fill out donations, donate for every touchdown we score,” Tommy said.explains.
And We Will W1n 4 ALS was born. With every touchdown Tommy or Bobby score, a donation is made to Project ALS, a nonprofit organization. We Will Win is what Tom used to say when he was fighting the disease. The 1 and the 4 represent the number he, Tommy, and Bobby all share.
“Our goal was originally $50,000, but in the first two weeks we instantly increased it to $100,000,” Tommy said.
And they are almost there.
Pledges on the website are up to $2,000 per touchdown; that’s a pace of $75,000 by seasons end.
“Their father has to be beaming from heaven,” Staci said.
So what’s a touchdown really worth? Everything.
“Every time I throw a touchdown, I think of him. Every time I throw a pass and it goes for a long gain, I think of him and how he raised me to be.”
If you’d like to donate to We Will W1n 4 ALS, you can find join the cause HERE