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We Are Unstoppable

WE ARE UNSTOPPABLE, sponsored by the University of Colorado Anschutz Medical Campus, shares inspirational stories from great athletes, celebrities, and the most brilliant minds in medicine on how to beat adversity to win in life. Hosted by sportscasters-turned-podcasters Les Shapiro and Vic Lombardi, each episode brings you one step closer to becoming your best unstoppable self.

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Evan Battey

Colorado Buffaloes starting center, Evan Battey, has been making a difference on the court and turning heads, even being noticed by the legendary Charles Barkley. You wouldn’t imagine that just a few years ago at the age of 19, this highly athletic and healthy young man was suddenly hospitalized–unable to speak or walk–after suffering a stroke.While playing basketball with friends on the day after Christmas in 2017, Evan noticed that he couldn’t feel the ball while dribbling. Unable to speak or explain to his friends what he was experiencing, his friends called his mother, who sprung into action to take him to the emergency room. By the time they arrived at the hospital, Evan couldn’t walk on his own. Hearing doctors say the word “stroke”, knowing it could cause permanent damage or even death, he was fearful of the worst. After 4 days in the hospital and an array of tests, Evan was released to go home.After taking some time to recover, Evan returned to play basketball for the Colorado Buffaloes, continuing to distinguish himself as an outstanding and influential player. He has received numerous resilience, character and inspiration awards, but being such a humble and genuine person, he’d be happy to be seen as an ordinary student and teammate.“What I’ve been through allowed me to have a different perspective on life, and it allowed me to portray that perspective to my teammates, and to the game and to the fans.”His mother and #1 fan, aerospace engineer Rosalind Lewis joined Evan to discuss this incredible story and the powerful life lessons that surround it with Les and Vic.Les also spoke with Dr. Michelle Leppert, Professor of Neurology of University of Colorado School of Medicine, specialist in vascular neurology, the brain, the nervous system and strokes. Dr. Leppert weighed in on Evan’s exceptional story and shared plenty of eye-opening information on strokes that everyone should know. #UnstoppablePodcasts

32mins

26 May 2021

Rank #1

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Joanne McCallie

One of the most accomplished basketball coaches in the last three decades had a secret. Joanne McCallie, the head women’s coach for the University of Maine, Michigan State and then Duke, was suffering from bipolar disorder. In her 28 seasons as a head coach she amassed a phenomenal winning record of 628-243 (.721) and took her teams to the NCAA tournament 21 times. She coached Michigan St. into the NCAA championship game in the 2004-05 season, and was named coach of the year multiple times in three different conferences.And yet, she couldn’t reveal her battles with mental illness for fear of ruining her career or being fired.McCallie first discovered her disease 25 years ago while coaching at Maine when she had a manic episode. At first, she thought she was being super-productive, but then loved ones intervened and told her it was more serious – even though, as an athlete and a mom she was in huge denial that her mind could be failing her. They even had to institutionalize her against her wishes.The author of her second memoir, Secret Warrior, which chronicles her struggles with bipolar, McCallie reminds us of the importance of discussing and caring for our mental health, especially among young adults and athletes. Now a #CoachP4ForLife, McCallie says nearly 3% of Americans suffer from bipolar disorder and nearly 50% are affected by some kind of mental illness, i.e., anxiety, depression and suicide, especially during the pandemic.Aside from medical and therapeutic care, McCallie credits her husband and family for giving her great support and keeping her "on track" when she would experience symptoms of the disorder. #UnstoppablePodcasts

22mins

1 Apr 2021

Rank #2

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The Future of Sports with Bud Black, Kyle Shanahan and Dr. Dawn Comstock

What does the future of sports look like in a post-pandemic world?Bud Black, Manager of the Colorado Rockies and Kyle Shanahan, San Francisco 49ers Head Coach, reflect on the tough year in sports, the lessons learned amidst the virus and how sports may be forever changed. We also spoke with Dawn Comstock, Ph.D, Adjunct Professor at the Colorado School of Public Health in the Department of Epidemiology at the CU Anschutz Medical Campus, and an expert on preventing sports injury and public health issues related to sports.This last year was challenging, as Bud Black managed the Rockies through 60 fan-less games — but he was proud of his players, coaches and support staff and the way they handled the stress. A day at the ballpark was not the same. His biggest learning? That he, his coaches and players need to lead by example on a daily basis because if America sees baseball do the right thing, they will too.For the NFL and football, Kyle Shanahan saw a shift in how coaches and athletes approached the game. Instead of focusing inward on getting stuff done, it’s now about reaching out to your teammate to see how they are doing. It used to be about putting the pressure on, and now it’s about taking the pressure off. And still winning, of course.Dr. Comstock looks at sports through the eyes of an epidemiologist. How do you track the patterns of sports injuries — like a virus — to limit or prevent their occurrences.So how to keep fans and players safe this year? Get vaccinated when eligible, continue masking, keeping social distancing, symptom checks, temperature checks, testing and contact tracing. Some pro sports are doing a lot of it very well, some colleges are doing some of it and high school and youth sports are struggling to do any of it. In fact, Dr. Comstock has been a vocal critic of how poorly high school and youth sports have handled the pandemic — packing stadiums and fields with maskless parents, kids and fans. Instead of being a source of community pride, high school sports are becoming a danger to our communities, risking wide-spreading that could lead to another lockdown.The new normal across all sports? Athletes will have greater advocacy about their own health and safety, whether it’s from an infectious disease or a sports injury.#UnstoppablePodcasts

34mins

17 Mar 2021

Rank #3

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Jason Benetti

What is it like to live the life of your dreams by beating a disability you cannot change?Jason Benetti, play-by-play announcer for the Chicago White Sox and ESPN broadcaster did better than that.Jason was born 10 weeks prematurely. During his three months in the hospital as a newborn, he suffered a respiratory illness that deprived his blood of oxygen and caused him to have Cerebral Palsy.With disarming openness, Jason demystifies Cerebral Palsy, the most common neuromuscular disorder in the world.Despite early childhood trauma and stigma related to his involuntary movements, Jason went on to become a lawyer and later the play-by- play announcer for the Chicago White Sox — the job of his dreams.How much of Jason’s creativity derives from pain? And why does he lean on humor?“I first went into radio because people heard me before they could see me,” he explains. “I know what I look like. But I don’t want my condition to define me.”He is joined by Doctor Jason Rhodes, Associate Professor, Pediatric Orthopedic Surgeon and Director of the Cerebral Palsy and Neuromuscular Program at Children's Hospital Colorado on the CU Anschutz Medical Campus, where he is also the Clinical Director for the Center for Gait and Movement Analysis.Doctor Rhodes explains Cerebral Palsy as a “non-progressive brain injury,” by which he means a condition that cannot be changed. So what happens to a person when they can’t turn the clock back on essentially a stroke that shaped their brain before, during or directly after birth?From breakthrough surgeries, novel treatments and integrated sports activities, Doctor Rhodes and his team at Children’s Hospital and CU Anschutz help kids walk and move better to feel normal while beating the challenges that make people like Jason Benetti and other young patients truly unstoppable.   #UnstoppablePodcasts

39mins

24 Feb 2021

Rank #4

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Ed Werder

How do you tell your son-in-law that he won’t survive colon cancer? How do you help your daughter survive a cancerous brain tumor and your wife survive breast cancer?Ed Werder, who for 40 years as an NFL reporter for ESPN, CNN, Sports Illustrated and major daily newspapers, has gotten the football story where others haven’t. Ed talks about how he was unstoppable in getting the story of a lifetime (hint: it involves the Dallas Cowboys) and the new difficulties of continuing to get scoops during the pandemic.But the challenges of reporting on football pale compared to what it takes to help loved ones persevere through the ravages of cancer. Ed discusses how he helped his daughter triumph over brain surgery to remove a cancerous tumor and then helped her with relearning basic functions; he had to tell his son-in-law he would never leave the hospital before he ultimately passed to colon cancer at the age of 30; and a few years ago, he helped his wife of 39 years, Jill, go through chemo and radiation therapy for breast cancer, from which she is now surviving. Ed tells us that determination and perseverance in the face of adversity are a part of life. To keep going, he was inspired by legendary coach Bill Parcells and the Italian philosopher Seneca. But most of all, Ed drew inspiration from those around him and their will to persevere in the face of life’s worst challenges.Joining Ed, is Jennifer Diamond, M.D. an Associate Professor at the University of Colorado Anschutz Medical Campus, where she co-directs the Women’s Cancer Developmental Therapeutics program and the Phase One program. Dr. Diamond discusses breakthroughs in diagnosis, research and treatment of breast cancer — including a personalized cancer vaccine — and what women can do to decrease their risk of getting breast cancer. #UnstoppablePodcasts

31mins

11 Feb 2021

Rank #5

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John Tesh

John Tesh, American pianist, pop music composer, TV personality and radio host, may have a few limitations but Tesh knows no limits.The host of the Intelligence for Your Life radio show (and podcast) credits his wife Connie Sellecca and his father’s indifference with the strength he found to push through a devastating prostate cancer diagnosis.While battling cancer, Tesh has won six Emmys, has four gold albums, two Grammy nominations, plus an Associated Press award for investigative journalism. He has also sold more than eight million records and raised more than $7 million for PBS through his concerts. But what he is remembered for may surprise you.And because Tesh refuses to think of himself as limited, he set out to share his message of relentlessness by becoming an author. His memoir, “Relentless: Unleashing a Life of Purpose, Grit, and Faith,” was out on February 25, 2020.Tesh has achieved more in life than he ever dreamed possible. And the road to success has been anything but easy. In this episode, he tells us how to learn to be relentless, how to achieve what we didn’t think was possible, and how to handle our inevitable discouragements. #UnstoppablePodcasts

36mins

21 Jan 2021

Rank #6

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Jordan Wiseley

Reality star and influencer, Jordan Wiseley, talks about what it’s like to succeed in sports and in life with four missing fingers, an uncommon congenital disease known as symbrachydactyly with an unknown cause. “The human body is the most sophisticated machine on the planet,” Wiseley says with typical enthusiasm. “It can adapt to anything. I have never had fingers.” People often tell him, “Imagine how good you might have been with two hands.” Given the chance to have his left hand re-engineered so he can have two working hands, would Jordan Wiseley do it? His choice may surprise you. He is joined in this episode by Doctor Kia Washington, a board-certified hand surgeon who performs the most complex hand-reconstructive surgeries at the University of Colorado Anschutz Medical Campus. Besides leading world-class research in eye and other complex transplants, Doctor Washington is an expert on hand trauma, such as carpal tunnel syndrome and rheumatoid arthritis. She also performs hand reconstructive surgery, such as sewing fingers back on after severe accidents. Doctor Washington is hardly surprised at Jordan Wiseley’s success. “Despite being born with a congenital disease,” she says, “most people go on to become resilient and great achievers.” From learning to bat left-handed, to learning to button a cuff, Wiseley is unstoppable, a trait he does not think he could have had if he had been born with two hands. So how did success find him? “I got found at a bar,” he says. “From then, I headed to the real world.” The reality TV show The Challenge has taken him to Thailand, Norway, Patagonia, and Uruguay, among other exotic places.What makes Jordan Wisely unstoppable? According to Doctor Washington, it is the brain’s ability to remodel and to adapt. Wiseley agrees. “I have never had fingers. So this is something that I had to power past. You just have to do a little more.” #UnstoppablePodcasts

32mins

7 Jan 2021

Rank #7

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Monte Morris

What's it like to grow up in the number one murder capital in the country? Monte Morris, now in his fourth year as a Denver Nuggets’ point guard, tells us what it was like in Flint, Michigan, sleeping on a couch as a boy, hearing gun shots and turning to basketball to stay away from trouble while his mom worked two jobs to support him. Overcoming daily violence and getting to the NBA made him unstoppable. But what Monte counts as truly proving himself was being able to keep a promise he made to his mother when he was younger.When playing in the bubble in Orlando through the pandemic, Monte emerged as a team leader and inspiration during the Nuggets historic playoff run. It was while enduring daily testing and waiting in cars for COVID results, isolated from friends and family, that Monte discovered who his real friends were -- and what truly makes someone unstoppable on and off the court.He is joined by Matt Vogl, Executive Director of The National Mental Health Innovation Center at the University of Colorado Anschutz Medical Campus. Vogl founded the Center in 2015 to support big ideas and innovative technology solutions that address challenges in the mental healthcare system. Vogl is an innovator at heart. He is working to find creative solutions that can be quickly and effectively put to use to help people cope with increased anxiety, depression, rising suicide rates and COVID-related stress.“The mental health care system is stretched to its limits,” says Vogl. Besides peer support, meditation, staying active and staying connected, as a former comedian, Vogl believes that laughter could be the best medicine for coping with the pandemic. Find out more by listening to this podcast. #UnstoppabePodcasts

31mins

18 Dec 2020

Rank #8

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Brian Griese

Brian Griese, former quarterback and current color commentator for Monday Night Football on ESPN, lost his mother when he was twelve. He lives with her loss every single day. Where is heaven? And what if a child wants to join his lost parent there?  Grief is a complex emotion. When we don’t have the tools to cope with it, we may turn the loss inward. For Griese, his mother’s loss turned to anger. And later in life, to substance abuse. That is why he founded Judi’s House, a safe place that supports those struggling after the death of a loved one. In this episode, Griese is joined by Dr. Steven Berkowitz, Professor of Psychiatry at CU’s School of Medicine and Director of the START Center. Traumatic events leave us feeling isolated, says Dr. Berkowitz. That is why it is important to be around others who have suffered similar losses. The pandemic is affecting all of us. With empathy and compassion, Dr. Berkowitz talks about why it is easier to say good-bye to a person than to say good-bye to the of way of life we once knew.As a result of the pandemic, many of us do not understand how to cope with the loss, or the uncertainty. If the path ahead seems dark and uncertain, there is help. SAMHSA’s Disaster Distress Helpline,  1-800-985-5990, offers 24/7, 365-day-a-year crisis counseling and support to people experiencing emotional distress related to natural or human-caused disasters. Can you shake grief? These and other important questions are discussed in this timely podcast episode. #UnstoppablePodcasts

32mins

3 Dec 2020

Rank #9

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Peter Schaffer

Sports super-agent Peter Schaffer heard the words no parent ever wants to hear – your child has cancer.  And then he heard it again.Negotiating more than $1 billion in contracts for NFL Hall-of-Famers, athletes and coaches is worthless when your teen-aged children have been diagnosed with Hodgkin’s lymphoma, a cancer of the lymphatic system that afflicts nearly 9,000 Americans every year. What are the chances of having both your children contract this non- hereditary disease? Perhaps one in a hundred million.Peter’s daughter Lily knew something was wrong a few years ago when she started having uncontrollable and unbearable itching over her entire body.  She couldn’t sleep, stand up or even eat. After six months of suffering and visits to dermatologists, allergists and even a psychiatrist, Lily still didn’t have an answer.  But when Peter and his wife Alison took Lily to Children’s Hospital at the CU Anschutz Medical Campus, they discovered the true cause: Hodgkin’s, stage 2B.Then, at the start of the pandemic this February, Peter’s son Gavin, a burly high-school lacrosse player, started losing a lot of weight.  At first, doctors thought he had contracted COVID-19, which at the time was a mysterious disease.  But when COVID tests came back negative, and Gavin’s health worsened, they turned to Children’s for the answer, and it was devastating:  Hodgkin’s, stage 4. What would you do as a parent?  How did sister and brother battle through the treatments?  And who got to ring the Warrior Bell at Children’s Hospital, a sign of good health?Dr. Brian Greffe, Pediatric Oncologist and Medical Director of the H.O.P.E. clinic at the Children’s Hospital at the University of Colorado Anschutz Medical Campus, treated both Lily and Gavin.  Dr. Greffe joins Peter on the podcast and shares insights on the disease, breakthrough treatments at Children’s and how the kids were unstoppable in their fight with cancer.   #UnstoppablePodcasts

32mins

20 Nov 2020

Rank #10