Penn State Athletics
Curt Warner is Penn State's second all-time leading rusher, but his story resonates far beyond the football field.

Penn State great Curt Warner talks parental challenge, perspective on Journey Brown’s 100-meter triumph and more

We hope you’ll start your day with us here at the as we work to prepare you for everything that you need to know — Monday through Friday — around the world of Penn State sports. Whether it’s football, basketball, wrestling, hockey, baseball or just a wild story we hope you’ll find interesting, we’re here to share it all with you.

This is your Penn State Wake-Up Call for Tuesday, May 30. Let’s get started.

Curt Warner’s challenge

Dave Boling of the Tacoma News Tribune on Friday told the tale of former Penn State All-American RB Curt Warner, who with his wife Ana has raised twin autistic sons.

The boys, Austin and Christian, are at the lower-functioning end of the spectrum, according to Boling’s account. They have left their parents with countless challenges, challenges that have gone well beyond anything Warner faced during his playing career.

He is second on the Nittany Lions’ all-time rushing list with 3,398 yards, and was part of their 1982 national championship team. Chosen third in the 1983 draft by the Seattle Seahawks, the three-time Pro Bowler spent eight years in the NFL and ran for 6,844 yards, including four 1,000-yard seasons.

Now 56, he became a successful businessman following his playing career, first owning a car dealership in Seattle and now running an insurance agency in Portland.

Austin and Christian, now 22, have very clearly been a handful, and then some. A neighbor told Boling that the Warners’ home was so damaged by the twins that it resembled “a war zone.”

As Curt told Boling:

“There were so many times we were in disbelief at what was going on. For a long time, we wondered how far we could go without breaking.”

Ana nearly did. She was diagnosed with post-traumatic stress disorder at one point. And the most trying time of all surely came in February 2008, when Austin set fire to the family’s home, nearly burning it to the ground. As Curt recalled:

“We always lived on the edge, but this was so unforeseen. We didn’t have time to sit there and complain and go ‘woe-is-me.’ We got through the initial shock of it and regrouped. We had to think, what do we do next?”

Curt and Ana have written a book entitled Waiting for a Miracle, which they are shopping to publishers. And according to Boling’s account, the twins’ behavior is largely under control though their long-term care is still in question.

Curt said he and Ana just keep putting one foot in front of the other:

“People ask, ‘How do you do it?’ Well, you just do it. You can’t just wait for a miracle, you have to get busy finding a way to live, one day after the other. And at some point you realize that maybe that was the miracle itself.”

Don’t stop believin’

As noted by the Land of 10’s Chris Kwiecinski, Lions running back recruit Journey Brown last weekend repeated as the Pennsylvania state 100-meter champ with a record time of 10.43 on Saturday.

Mark Brennan of Fight on State offers some perspective on the record, noting that Brown broke the previous mark of 10.44, set in 1985 by Leroy Burrell of Penn Wood — and that Burrell, now the track coach at Houston, tweeted his congratulations to the younger man.

Brennan also writes that only three men in the history of PSU’s track program have ever run the 100 faster, and that among Lions football players Michael Timpson ran the best time — 10.47 — in 1987.

Brown, who enrolls at Penn State next month, rushed for 2,791 yards and 45 touchdowns last fall at Meadville High School. That includes a 722-yard, 10-TD game against Dubois.

Katie O’Donnell, Maggie Gallagher honored

While the PSU women’s lacrosse team fell 20-10 to eventual national champion Maryland in the NCAA semifinals Friday, two Lions — juniors Katie O’Donnell and Maggie Gallagher — were named to the all-tournament team.

O’Donnell scored 4 goals and Gallagher added 3 in the game for Penn State, which finished 17-4.

O’Donnell closed out the season with 65 goals, second on the team to Madison Carter’s 70. O’Donnell’s total was also the eighth-highest in school history, and her 142 career goals are tied for ninth all time.

Gallagher, whose hat trick Friday was the second of her career, finished the season with 23 goals and 16 assists.

Maryland closed out a 23-0 season with a 16-13 victory against Boston College in Sunday’s championship game. It was the Terps’ third title in four seasons.

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