Chase Winovich and Larry Prout: More Than Friendship

When the New England Patriots used their 77th overall pick on Chase Winovich, they were getting more than 4.56 40-yard dash speed. They also got Larry Prout.

To know Prout would take more than just reading this article. Understanding what it is like to endure over 100 surgeries in your lifetime due to Spinal Bifida and Omphalocele is close to impossible.

Omphalocele is a rare abdominal wall defect in which organs stay outside of the abdomen in a sack due to the failure of normal return in the ninth week of intrauterine development.

These diseases, along with over a dozen more, are the reason’s for Prout’s constant visits to the operating room.

Prout’s mother Kathy was quick to inform me that none of Prout’s surgeries have been elective, they are all necessary for survival.

“None of Larry’s surgeries are elective, he needs every one of them, we almost lost him a few times,” said Kathy Prout.

Larry has spent his whole life in and out of C.S. Mott Children’s Hospital in Ann Arbor Michigan. This is also home to the University of Michigan Wolverines. Prout is a huge Michigan Football fan and was paired up with the Wolverines football team through an organization called Team Impact.

Team Impact was formed by Co-Founder Dan Kraft, son of Robert Kraft. They are a nonprofit that connects children facing serious and chronic illnesses with college athletic teams, forming lifelong bonds and life-changing outcomes.

Through Team impact, a child battling illness becomes and official member of a college athletic team. They even have an official draft day. This provides optimism, confidence and a sense of belonging for the child. Parents and siblings gain community support and a distraction from medical realities.

“When I was starting with Team Impact, I was offered a few different teams, but I kept passing until my dreams came true, I got Michigan football and was so happy because I’m a Michigan man,” said Prout.

That is when all the fun began. Prout was paired up with multiple Michigan athletes, including Chase Winovich. The thought that a child with this much pain and suffering could find some joy through this program is why Team Impact is now in 48 states helping over 1,800 children.

Winovich and Prout struck up an instant friendship. Winovich says the friendship comes from his respect for Prout and the entire Prout family for what they have been through.

“Larry and his whole family have earned my respect and that is saying a lot because I’m a hard guy to impress,” Winovich told Prime Time Sports Talk.

The friendship between Winovich and Prout has created some priceless memories. The dynamic duo have bowled, played video games, driven golf carts, had birthday parties and much more. Winovich recalled going to the Prout family residence to have dinner for the first time and seeing all the signed memorabilia on Prout’s wall.

“I couldn’t believe how many people showed support for Larry by sending him signed pictures and memorabilia,” Winovich said. “I know Larry doesn’t take things for granted and supports the community that supports him.”

A perfect example of Prout giving back was his work on the ChadTough charity fundraiser. Prout and Winovich dyed their hair orange in helping to raise $250,000 to fight the disease Diffuse Intrinsic Pontine Glioma. This time someone else joined the pair on their mission, Defensive Coach Don Brown.

Brown supported Prout and Winovich by dying his moustache orange for the cause. Brown and Prout have become really good friends as well. Brown invited Prout to practices and to sit in on private defensive meetings, but he had to be able to keep a secret.

“I’m so honored to have met Larry through Chase, he brings such a positive energy into the meeting room when he visits we actually get more done,” said Brown.

Coach Brown also offered up some thoughts on how Winovich will fit in with the Patriots. Brown cited Winovich’s ability to be a great ambassador for the Patriots in the New England community. Also, Brown was not shy about Winovich’s ability to get after the football and being able to make noise on defense.

“Chase’s passion for the game brings out the best in everyone on and off the field, he has cemented himself as one of the great Michigan men and I believe will do the same in New England,” said Brown.

I could certainly sense what Coach Brown was saying about Winovich’s off the field presence. I could tell he was a guy of conviction and sincerity. Winovich was very heartfelt when speaking about the friendship between his mother and Mrs. Prout. He also spoke about how the Prout family deserves a lot of credit for not taking more help than they need form people.

“The Prout family receives help, but they don’t take more than they need for basic survival,” said Winovich.

Time has passed on Larry’s tenure with Team Impact, he has now graduated from the program, just as Winovich has graduated from Michigan. We asked Winovich what his plan was to keep in touch with Larry beside the texts or phone calls.

“Now that I had my thumb surgery I am going to get Larry hooked up on XBox Live and find a new game for us to learn together,” said Winovich.

Prout has had a lot of amazing things happen to him and made lifelong friends. Rubbing elbows with some of the most famous people in football. Prout was even asked to give a speech and introduce Dan Kraft at the Team Impact Gala because of the great relationship they have created with each other.

Prout has had an eventful and unique journey. We asked Prout what he will remember most about his time with Winovich and Michigan Football.

“My favorite memory will always be seeing Chase in the tunnel coming off the field and him coming over and asking me how my family and I are doing,” Prout said. “Those 30 seconds belonged to us.”


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