Steve Grogan: 1995 Alumni Medallion recipient

Posted July 01, 1995

In a time when role models appear to be in short supply, especially in athletics, a Steve Grogan comes along to provide encouragement for another generation of Americans.

A 1975 K-State graduate and a 16-year veteran quarterback for the New England Patriots, Grogan never forgot his Ottawa, Kan., roots as he has become a tireless advocate for people challenged by physical and mental disabilities. His personal life rivals his professional career for inspiring admiration.

To honor Grogan's humanitarian achievements, K-State officials presented him the Alumni Medallion during the 1995 Commencement exercises on May 13.

The Alumni Medallion Award, the most prestigious of K-State Alumni Association honors, provides recognition for the achievements of the university's graduates. Nominees are selected for humanitarian service to society, significant contributions to community, state or nation, and outstanding work in their chosen field.

Grogan has kept a hectic pace for causes benefiting charitable foundations and the disabled. He has helped such causes as Easter Seals, March of Dimes and Arthritis Foundation. He led marathons, chaired fund-raisers, presented motivational talks and spoke to children on drug resistance.

Grogan can relate to people with physical limitations because he knows pain from his football days prior to retiring in 1991. He was sidelined with knee injuries in 1979, neck injuries in 1988 and a fractured fibula in 1983.

Paul Hudson, president of the Kennedy-Donovan Center, a physical therapy facilitiy in New Bedford, Mass., nominated Grogan for the 1991 Distinguished Citizen Award of the Massachusetts Association for Retarded Citizens.

He said Grogan "participates in many local, regional and statewide activities and events which directly benefit individuals and groups. He does so not for visibility or image, but because of a sincere desire to help and 'lend a hand,' whether it is acting as master of ceremonies, spokesperson or participant."

Hudson said Grogan has introduced countless people throughout New England to the challenges facing individuals with mental retardation and has provided leadership to non-disabled individuals on how to relate to people with mental disabilities.

Former Massachusetts governor and presidential candidate Michael Dukakis honored Grogan in 1987 for his 10 years of work with the Easter Seal Society telethons.

Said Dukakis: "You have dedicated your life to demonstrating to people with disabilities that, although their physical mobility may be limited, their dreams and aspirations are unbounded."

Grogan has been described as "a man with the heart of a thoroughbred." The many honors and awards bestowed point to his genuine concern for his fellow citizens.

Grogan participates in more than 30 philanthropic events a year. He heads up still others, like the 24-hour Easter Seals relay in 1993-1994 that raised more than $300,000 and the Arthritis Foundation gala and the March of Dimes Celebrity Golf Classic that combined produced $400,000 for charities.

Grogan married Robbi Hewson of Larned, Kan., in 1977. She earned degrees from KSU in 1974 and 1976. 
In almost every way Grogan has steered his Patriot recognition to draw the general public he touches into supporting and understanding the special needs of disabled individuals. Robbi Grogan has shared in the leadership roles he has been asked to play.

Of the couple, Boston Globe sports writer Will McDonough may have said it best: "I've been around the Boston pro sports community for over 30 years, and to me, the Grogans, in their own quiet way, are exceptional in the way they have reached out to help others."

Grogan's 16-year professional career is one for the record books.

With the average career length in professional football at around four years, no New England Patriot played longer, threw more times or completed more passes for more yards or for more touchdowns.

Grogan, the song of James and Doris Grogan of Ottawa, Kan., is owner of Grogan-Marciano Sporting Goods in suburban Boston. Robbi is the daughter of Ken '43, '49 and Mary '48 Hewson, Larned, Kan. The couple resides in Foxboro, Mass., with their three sons, Tyler 15, Tanner 12 and Tate 7.