Moose Lake Star Gazette - Serving Carlton and Pine Counties Since 1895

By Lois E. Johnson
Moose Lake Star-Gazette 

Local athlete receives Courage Award

Danny Lilya recognized by National Football Foundation


Courtesy photo

Danny Lilya, a member of the Moose Lake-Willow River Rebels football team, was presented with the Minnesota Football Honors Courage Award on Sunday at U. S. Bank Stadium.

Danny Lilya, a junior at Moose Lake High School, was presented with the Minnesota Honors Courage Award at U. S. Bank Stadium on Sunday, April 29.

According to information in a letter that Lilya received in March, "The Minnesota Chapter of the National Football Foundation and College Hall of Fame is a local non-profit organization whose mission is to promote and develop the power of amateur football in developing the qualities of leadership, sportsmanship, competitive spirit and academic excellence in Minnesota's young people."

The courage award is one of many awards and honors Lilya has received in the past year. He was presented with the Spirit of Sport Award last year, and it was the first of many awards and honors.

Danny, his brother Michael, his father, Dan, and the Rebels Football Coach Dave Louzek were able to attend the Super Bowl at U. S. Bank stadium in February because of the tickets the Vikings presented to Danny.

"His story has drawn media coverage and inspired many people," it was stated in the letter.

This time, not only was Lilya presented with the award, his photo and the award have been displayed on a billboard in the Twin Cities area. Friends have seen it on their way to the airport, it has been reported on Facebook.

His mother, Sheryl, said they tried to find the billboard but weren't successful. She said it is an electronic billboard that changes the display often.

Photo courtesy

Danny Lilya, with his Minnesota Football Honors Courage Award, is pictured with his family. From left are his parents, Dan and Sheryl Stone; his sister, Elyse; his brother Michael; and his grandfather, Jerry Stone.

Lilya, a student who has spent his life in a wheelchair after being born with a broken back, is a member of the Moose Lake-Willow River Rebels Football Team and is the holder. He is also a member of the Minnesota Wild Sled Hockey Team.

Rebels Coach Dave Louzek was quoted in the letter as saying, "Danny is a remarkable young man and student-athlete. He is determined to be able contribute to the team despite his disability. As our extra point/field goal holder, Danny has proven that everyone has role to play, and when you embrace that role, success follows – both for the team and the individual. Danny's contribution is much larger than he realizes. He is a leader and an inspiration to all who follow him."

Sheryl wrote in a message when the family was returning from the ceremony: "Danny got a standing ovation when he was presented with the award. He also got invited to the OTA (Organized Team Activity) in the spring by Coach Mike Zimmer, the Vikings Head Coach!"


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