Joe Paterno rescued a former player’s son from a grim fate

  • Jim Racalto


Throughout his decades of coaching at Penn State before he sadly passed away in 2012, Joe Paterno saw thousands of players come and go. But that certainly doesn’t mean he forgot them.

Pete Curkendall played for the NIttany Lions in the 1980’s, and probably would have been an elite NFL player if it wasn’t for his lack of work ethic. That is something Paterno harped on him for routinely.

That didn’t stop Paterno from giving the gift of life to Curkendall’s son, Joshua:

The son of the former Penn State football player had only five weeks to live.

Pete Curkendall and his wife, Renee, already were caring for an adopted girl with AIDS and cerebral palsy. Doctors then stunned them with news that their 2 1/2-year-old biological son, Joshua, had a cancerous brain tumor and almost certainly wouldn’t survive…

The anonymous checks began showing up in the church office not long after Joshua’s brain cancer diagnosis…

They came in odd amounts, a few thousand one month and maybe more the next. It eventually all added up to about $50,000. Finally, a substitute church secretary slipped up and told Curkendall that the gifts were from Joe Paterno…

“I didn’t even look at it as the money. He gave us a year that we could stay home with our son that we thought we would never have…”

“He gave us a year, and you can’t repay that.”

In a nutshell, Paterno provided Curkendall and his wife the necessary funds for their son to receive the best treatment available. Although he still has learning disabilities, Joshua is now 19.

The touching part of the story is that Curkendall had been done with Penn State football for over ten years. With Paterno’s passing, this is just another wonderful way to remember the man that Joe Paterno was.






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Jim Racalto

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