God Bless You, Mrs. Paterno!

In 2008, I experienced great fun in compiling recipes for a cookbook fundraiser for Annie’s school, Sprayberry Education Center. I asked my husband if he thought football coach’s wives would contribute recipes to a tailgating cookbook. His reply, “why not? you’re only asking for a recipe”. That’s all the encouragement I needed so I went about requesting recipes through letters sent in the mail. The very first recipes(s) received were from Sue Paterno, wife of Penn State Head Coach, Joe Paterno! Wow! I was more than excited. Not only did Mrs. Paterno contribute 4 great recipes to our cookbook, she offered encouragement to a project that would benefit children with special needs. Our project raised approximately $15,000 for our school! With her recipes, she included a hand written letter about her work with special needs children through the State of Pennsylvania Special Olympics program. While we received lots of recipes from coach’s wives, her contribution was definitely a highlight. Also noteworthy, is that out of the major college coach’s wives, she was the only one to communicate with me directly, not through a secretary or SID. It was special! When we invited the contributors to attend our inaugural “Tailgating with the Stars” fundraiser, she was, again, the first to respond when she called me personally to let me know that she would not be able to come. We had a nice conversation about special children, my daughter, Special Olympics, John Mark Stallings and more. She just happened to ask about John Mark, son of former Alabama Coach Gene Stallings,  to find out that he had just passed away days before. “I’ll have to tell Joe – he’ll want to call Gene”. For the silent auction at our fundraiser, she and Coach Paterno both autographed a couple of our cookbooks. She inscribed, “Education – the best of all endeavors” followed by their signatures. I have one of those cookbooks, thanks to my husband who secretly purchased it for me at the event. I can’t thank them enough for their support and encouragement all the way from State College, PA to Tuscaloosa, AL! Today, my heart goes out to Mrs. Paterno and her family as Coach Paterno has passed away. Through these comments, I choose to honor the legacy of the Paterno’s to education and the community. RIP Coach Paterno. God bless Mrs. Paterno, the Paterno family and the entire Penn State community!

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