GRAND RAPIDS, Mich. -- As the West Michigan Spartans gear up for their annual Spartan Winter Tailgate in Grand Rapids, they are remembering a former football star who died too soon.
Michael Sadler graduated from Forest Hills Northern and went on to be a punter at Michigan State University. However, he died in a car crash in July 2016.
“He did everything right, you know?" says his mom, Karen Sadler. "He was the example of what we can all be and do and the more that gets out the happier he would be.”
Sadler was the first four-time academic All-American in MSU history. To keep his name and legacy alive, the Michael Sadler Foundation was created to embody the three things most important to him: character, academic excellence, and athletic achievement.
"The mission of the foundation really is to create and support programs and awards that embody those three principles that were so important to him," says Karen.
The foundation is one of four that will benefit from this year's Spartan Winter Tailgate. To date, they've donated more than $1.2 million to MSU and nearly $200,000 to the Grand Rapids Student Advancement Foundation.
"His life now has kind of moved through all of us," says Scott Webb, VP of Sales at West Michigan Spartans. "Not only locally in the community, but we hear stories today of individuals at Penn State, for example, who are celebrating his life and his legacy. So it’s great to celebrate life, celebrate a football program, and find ways of giving back."
An award has been named after Sadler that will be given to the Division 1 College Scholar Athlete of the Year during a Detroit Free Press football banquet.
The Winter Tailgate is February 9. Tickets are still available for Thursday’s tailgate and there are volunteer opportunities as well.
For more information, visit the West Michigan Spartan’s website.