NORTHFIELD, Vt. -
Sevens Rugby will make its Olympic debut in the Summer of 2016. On Sunday, several local colleges got their first taste of the sport. While champions were crowned, the day was really all about championing for a bigger cause and a hero who inspired it all.
Plattsburgh native Chris Munn is no stranger to tough opponents. A former Norwich rugby captain and 27-year military veteran, he was prepared for most anything; except this.
"It really is something that's still a mystery," Munn said." "Heck, I didn't know anything about it when I was diagnosed."
Munn was diagnosed with ALS also known as Lou Gehrig's disease last year, it's an incurable neuro-degenerative disease but it's disease he knew he would not battle alone. Besides the support of his family and the medical community his close ties from his days at Norwich University have come back to help.
"We all love Chris and he's our brother," former teammate Dennis Downey said. "We would do anything to help any one of these guys and we take a lot of pride in that."
Using his love of rugby and the bond of brotherhood, his teammates returned from all over the world, to help create the inaugural Chris Munn Sevens Charity Tournament. The event brought in some of region's top teams to help raise awareness and funding for the disease while also starting a scholarship in his honor.
"See all of these guys behind me, they're here for Chris," former teammate Bob Reddington said. "Probably because of the person he is, the strength of his character and determination."
"We used to have a sevens tournament back in the day," Munn said. "To bring this back for the cause with ALS around it is fantastic."
On a typical day on the pitch, the Cadets rugby teams would eye only victory in a game against local rivals Dartmouth, Vermont or Boston University. However, on this day, they're playing inspired for an entirely different reason.
"Usually when we go out there it's physical and we just go at it," Cadets rugby player Arick Thecraw said. "Today it was fun and for a good cause, it was cool."
For Munn it was a day to reconnect with old and new Norwich Cadets. His ALS has begun to show its face through his speech and motor function in his legs. Still, Munn's spirit and desire to do battle with his disease is as strong as ever.
"I think being back here with my family and friends and spending time is allowing me to help get that message across," Munn said.
The event raised an estimated $15,000 with the Norwich women and Dartmouth men winning the first tournament titles. In Northfield, Dylan Scott Channel 3 Sports.