I typically don’t watch morning TV except to catch the weather or see a big news story. But something caught my ear last week that drew me to my TV to linger and listen.

It was an interview in progress with the famous former Notre Dame football player Rudy Ruettiger. Rudy stopped by the TV studio while on his current speaking tour to promote his new book, Rudy: My Story. Most of us are familiar with his first book and movie, Rudy, which shared his underdog success story. Despite tremendous odds, Rudy overcame major obstacles to achieve his dream.

What caught my attention were his words and pearls of wisdom during this interview. The TV host was asking Rudy how he can turn just 5 minutes and 1 football play into a lifetime of notoriety. Without missing a beat, and what makes him so endearing to all of us, Rudy replies that his popularity is not about him per se. “It is about the bigger picture and life lessons”. He explains that his present career as a motivational speaker is about the classic American dream of achievement. “It’s about setting goals. It’s about picking yourself up when you are knocked down. It’s about not living in the past nor dwelling on missteps, but instead, constantly looking and moving forward”.

As we pass another anniversary of 9/11 and head into a negative election season, it is a bright spot to be reminded of American people like Rudy who exemplify that the USA is the greatest country in the world for opportunity. His story and mine resonate that dreams do come true if you are willing to work for them.

There are lots of ‘underdog wins’, triumph over tragedy’ or ‘rags to riches’ stories out there and we love them – think about the movies Pursuit of Happyness, Cinderella Man or Invincible.

After I complete my book quest journey, I’d like to meet other ‘Champions by Choice’ to document and share their stories as well as mine. But first, onward with my journey…