Based on the true story!
In February 2006, young Luke Abbate accepted a ride home from a fellow
student following his high-school team practice. In a severe case of
irresponsible and reckless teen-age driving, and over the objections of
Luke and the other young passengers, the driver lost control of the car
at nearly 90 miles-per-hour, spinning off a narrow road and landing in
an embankment some seventy feet below. Luke suffered irreparable brain
damage, and died in the hospital two days later – just four days before
his sixteenth birthday.
While in the hospital, the Abbate family made the difficult decision to
permit the doctors to utilize Luke’s organs in a nationwide organ
transplant program. Five recipients were almost immediately identified,
including a young mother who was suffering with serious heart disease.
Sharing an uncommon blood type, Luke’s heart was flown to the young
woman’s hospital location across the country, resulting in a successful
heart transplant, and saving her life.
Following his brother’s death, Jon considered giving up his football
career – but knew that doing so would not properly honor the younger
brother who loved and idolized him. Upon his return to Wake Forest, Jon
was given the approval of head coach Jim Grobe to change his number from
his long-standing 40, to his brother’s number 5. And, in so doing,
dedicated the new season to the memory of his brother. The Abbate
family founded The Luke Abbate 5th Quarter Foundation for the purposes
of educating young people nationwide to the dangers and life-altering
consequences of irresponsible driving.
A tradition began to evolve during the following Wake Forest games. In
paying homage to Luke, Jon would signal his family sitting in the stands
(Section 5) by holding up his hand with all 5 fingers outstretched. He
did this at the end of the third quarter. Gradually, the rest of his
team started to do the same. Within a couple of games, players from both
teams, the fans in the stands, and those watching the games on
television, would begin the final quarter by raising their hands with
all 5 fingers outstretched in honor of Luke’s memory. The final quarter
became known as Luke’s Quarter, the 5th Quarter, and this humble signal
crystallized the entire team. And, although having lost their starting
quarterback, starting running back, and starting defensive end to
injuries at the beginning of the season, Wake Forest went on to complete
their most successful season in school history, winning 11 games against
2 losses. Coach Grobe was selected the ACC’s Coach-Of-The-Year, and Jon
performed brilliantly in the ACC Championship Game with fifteen solo
tackles against powerhouse Georgia Tech.