PRESENTATION 4-16-15: Peter Westerhaus

Peter Westerhaus
Peter Westerhaus

Bob Roepke introduced Peter Westerhaus, a young man who shared his personal history over the past 5 years. In his words, Peter is “Just a college kid with a story.” Growing up in Chanhassen, attending Holy Family High School and selected as a high school All-American, Peter was injured by a rock fall in the Grand Canyon in March 2011. Recovering from a severe skull fracture was Peter’s “BIG ROCK” – an unexpected personal challenge. Peter noted that every one of us, at some point in our life, experiences their own “big rock.”

Peter become a freshman lineman on the University of Minnesota football team and he was on his way to continuing his boyhood dreams. Then his life with ulcerative colitis began. This gastro-intestinal disease, with no known cure, tried to take over his life, but Peter’s spirit and lots of medical help has at least tied the game, but he had to put his football dreams and the articles associated with them into a “BOX” and move on. Peter believes that this is critical in order to move onward and achieve a productive and happy life, because stuff isn’t as important as the relationships we build.

Peter is now in his junior year at U of MN, studying finance. He still participates in physical activities, including golfing that he started while in physical rehabilitation. The “GOLF BALL” symbolizes the need to keep focused on recovery and building a life with whatever you have been given. After speaking with us, Peter was travelling to the University of Notre Dame to speak to medical students about the value of Compassionate Care.

In 2014, the Minnesota Chapter of the National Football Foundation presented its annual Courage Award to Peter for his positive influence on the Gophers football team and his strength in overcoming adversity. The Start Tribune article about Peter sums up the impression he gave our Rotary members: “Peter Westerhaus: Stronger Than a Rock, Tougher Than a Disease.” To read the article: