Western Michigan honors 'teammate' who died from cerebral palsy

Tuesday October 27th, 2015

The Western Michigan Broncos honored a fallen "teammate" with a touching tribute.

John Mulhearn, 15, never actually suited up for the Broncos, but Western Michigan coach P.J. Fleck still considered him a member of the WMU family, as he was a common fixture at practices and on the WMU sideline during games. He died Oct. 19 after a fight with cerebral palsy.

Mulhearn was the son of Sean Mulhearn, a linebacker on WMU's 1988 Mid-American Conference championship team.

"John taught this team dignity and never to judge a book by its cover," Fleck told the Western Michigan athletic website. "Never judge a person by what they look like, only by how they make you feel. John inspired this football team every single day and made us all better men. We're going to miss him."

According to Mulhearn's obituary, he was a freshman at Vicksburg High School near Kalamazoo, and enjoyed playing baseball on the Vicksburg Little League Challenger team and being a part of the Western Michigan football team.

Before the 2014 season, Mulhearn participated in one of Western Michigan's practices and scored a touchdown. He received the handoff and held the ball while Fleck ran him through the Bronco defense and into the end zone at Waldo Stadium. The team then joined him in celebration.

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