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Posted Sunday, October 14, 2007
Filmmaker on campus shooting scenes to be included in The Fifth Quarter
Winston-Salem, NC - The film screenplay to the highly inspirational sports story - The Jon and Luke Abbate Story - has been written by Rick Bieber, who will direct the independent feature in Winston-Salem, North Carolina. Driven by the tragic and fatal car crash that took the life of his fifteen year old brother Luke, and wearing Luke's number 5 jersey, Jon Abbate helps to lead the Wake Forest Demon Deacons to the most successful season in school history, and an appearance in the Orange Bowl. In one of the most inspirational stories of recent memory, Jon Abbate and the Wake Forest Demon Deacons completed their Cinderella season with an appearance in Miami's Orange Bowl. However, this is far more than a conventional sports story. It's a story of the triumph of the human spirit, and a story of intersecting lives and personal drama. Luke, Jon and the Abbate family, the reciepients of Luke's organs both before and after their lives were forever changed, Coach Grobe and members of the team.
In February, 2006, young Luke Abbate accepted a ride home from a fellow student following his high-school team practice. In a severe case of irresponsible and reckless teen-age driving, and over the objections of Luke and the other young passengers, the driver lost control of the car at nearly 90 miles-per-hour, spinning off a narrow road and landing in an embankment some seventy feet below. Luke suffered irreparable brain damage, and died in the hospital two days later - just four days before his sixteenth birthday.
While in the hospital, the Abbate family made the difficult decision to permit the doctors to utilize Luke's organs in a nationwide organ transplant program. 5 recipients were almost immediately identified, including a young mother who was suffering with serious heart disease. Sharing an uncommon blood type, Luke's heart was flown to the young woman's hospital location in Baltimore, resulting in a successful heart transplant, and saving her life.
Says Steven Abbate, Luke and Jon's father, "The fact that Luke was able to help these other five people is a blessing. It's still too early - but one day I hope to be able to place my hand on the chest of this young woman, and feel my son's heart pumping life within her." Following his brother's death, Jon considered giving up his football career - but knew that doing so would not properly honor the younger brother who loved and idolized him. Upon his return to Wake Forest, Jon was given the approval of head coach Jim Grobe to change his number from his long-standing 40, to his brother's number 5. And, in so doing, dedicated the new season to the memory of his brother. The Abbate family then founded the 5 Foundation (5foundation.com) for the purposes of educating young people nationwide to the dangers and life-altering consequences of irresponsible driving.
Football fans at the Orange Bowl hold up five fingers in honor of Jon Abbate's brother, who died last winter in a car accident. The story of Abbate after he lost his brother could be the subject of a Hollywood movie. A tradition began to evolve during the following Wake Forest games. In paying homage to Luke, Jon would signal his family sitting in the stands (Section 5) by holding up his hand with all 5 fingers outstretched. He did this at the end of the third quarter. Gradually, the rest of his team started to do the same. Within a couple of games, players from both teams, the fans in the stands, and those watching the games on television, would begin the final quarter by raising their hands with all 5 fingers outstretched in honor of Luke's memory. The final quarter became known as Luke's Quarter, the 5th Quarter, and this humble signal crystallized the entire team. And, although having lost their starting quarterback, starting running back, and starting defensive end to injuries at the beginning of the season, Wake Forest went on to complete its most successful season in school history, winning 11 games against 2 losses. Coach Grobe was selected the ACC's Coach-Of-The-Year, and Jon performed brilliantly in the ACC Championship Game completing fifteen solo tackles against powerhouse Georgia Tech.
"This is simply one of the most moving and dramatic true-life, sports-related stories I've ever heard," said Rick Bieber. "It begins with a loving, American family experiencing what is our worst nightmare - the sudden and tragic loss of a child - and ends with a family, a team, a school, and an entire community coming together to achieve much more than what was ever expected. During the pre-season, the Wake Forest football team was picked to finish last in the ACC's Atlantic Division. And today, not only are they a championship team, but a new foundation has been created to address what is a national emergency regarding the alarming number of automobile accidents involving young people primarily between the ages of sixteen and twenty years of age. It's a story about turning a horrific event into a positive force for change. From the ashes of Luke's tragic death comes a force which bound together a team, a school and a community, and allowed them to accomplish far more than was ever expected. And now, these same people who were involved in the entire story last year are also involved in the making of the move: the Abbate family, Wake Forest University, Coach Grobe and the team, and my partner, Bob McCreary." In the intended final scene of the film, after the Cinderellla season has come to a close, the Abbate family is gathered in their Atlanta living room, watching television when there is a knock at the door. Adam (Jon's older brother) leaves the living room, and returns with a young woman holding the hand of a toddler. No words need be spoken - we all know who she is. Steven (Jon and Luke's father), remains seated on the sofa, too overwhelmed with emotion to stand. The young woman smiles sympathetically, and walks to Steven. She unbuttons her sweater, and gracefully, lovingly, cradles Steven's head, and places his ear to her chest. As his eyes swell, we hear what he hears - Luke's heart beating lwithin her. And as the screen fades to black, we continue to hear the gift of life that Luke has given this young woman, and the child who stands at her mother's side.
Rick Bieber is currently completing post-production for the independent feature film Crazy (crazy-themovie.com), which he co-wrote, directed and produced. The film, which is inspired by the life of legendary guitar player Hank Garland, stars Waylon Payne (Walk The Line) and Ali Larter (Heroes)."
In one of the most inspirational sports stories of recent memory, Jon Abbate and the Wake Forrest Deacons completed their Cinderella season with an appearance in Miami's Orange Bowl.