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There are 22 players on the field during a football game….11 offensive and 11 defensive. When one man is injured and unable to play…that is 21. The number 21 is the number of Grant Milton, a high school senior from The Woodlands High School in Texas who was injured during a state playoff game in Waco, TX on November 26, 2016. Grant suffered a traumatic brain injury on the field and was air lifted to a hospital in Waco. He immediately went into a coma and several weeks after he was stabilized, he was transported back to a hospital in The Woodlands, TX. Grant is currently a patient at TIRR Memorial Hermann in Houston, TX undergoing rehabilitation.
The 21 Strong Foundation was started in honor of Grant Milton by Grant Farley and Mel Saettone. Grant Farley is one of Grant Milton’s best friends. When Grant Milton was injured, Grant Farley stepped into action to help his best friend by initiating many local fundraisers to assist with his recovery and care. Grant Farley was instrumental in having Grant Milton’s story go “viral” in the national media. JJ Watt with the Houston Texans saw Grant’s story and immediately stepped in with a donation of $10K on Grant Milton’s Go Fund Me page.
Mel Saettone is a career woman and a mother to a son who is thirteen years old. Mel’s son plays the same position of linebacker as Grant Milton at the junior high school in The Woodlands, and her uncle also played for many years in the NFL as a running back. Mel was extremely touched by Grant Milton’s story and the efforts of his best friend Grant Farley to do everything possible to assist him. Mel reached out to Grant Farley on social media and offered to help him with his fundraising efforts.
Mel and Grant met one day in early December 2016 at a fundraising event a local Chik-Fil-A in The Woodlands, TX for over an hour. Mel saw the vision that this eighteen year student had and wanted to help. Having spent a career in marketing, retail and fundraising, she wanted to assist him in achieving his dream of not only helping his friend, but helping other high school football players in a similar situation. So together they came up with a plan for a foundation and began their outreach to the community. Together, and with the help of many individuals, they launched the 21 Strong Foundation, which provides financial and emotional support to high school football players and their families who are sidelined by a traumatic brain injury.
Their mission continues to grow and they are blessed by all the support and generosity that they have received from people, families , organizations and professional athletes all across the United States. There is no other charitable organization in the United States that steps in to assist high school football players with a traumatic brain injury. Man Down Step Up- the 21 Strong Foundation will be there for these high school players and their families when the game ends unexpectedly.