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posted: 3/21/2013 5:00 AM

The seeds of inspiration are all sizes

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"The kingdom of heaven is like a mustard seed, which a man took and planted in his field. Though it is the smallest of all seeds, yet when it grows, it is the largest of garden plants and becomes a tree, so that the birds come and perch in its branches."

-- Matthew 13:31-32

It may be said that newspapers are about the big seeds. The excellent students. The sports heroes. The movie stars. The captains of industry. The men and women of power.

These are our models and our inspirations.

But a newspaper sometimes spotlights the small seeds, too, and they, like Christ's mustard seed, can stand with the biggest of stories.

Such was the case with Rob Komosa.

From the afternoon he was tackled into an unpadded concrete post at a Rolling Meadows High School football field in October 1999 until his death last weekend, Komosa appeared in the Daily Herald hundreds of times. I suspect that, given the cause, he would have preferred never to have been written about at all. He would have cherished the "perfectly ordinary life" that Daily Herald columnist Burt Constable eloquently described in Tuesday's retrospective.

That was not his lot. His destiny was to be an inspiration, a tall order for a teenager who could not move his arms or legs, who felt as though he were "trapped under ice."

Yet, over and over in those hundreds of Daily Herald stories, that is how the people who knew this "perfectly ordinary" young man described him -- as a fighter, a dreamer, a doer, a fundraiser, a friend. Yes, an inspiration.

Of course, he did not necessarily see himself that way.

"I never envisioned myself at 27 years old wearing a diaper and my mom having to feed me and clean me," he says in a video at our website originally shot to accompany a story Constable wrote on the 10th anniversary of Komosa's injury. "I get crazy dreams of me driving. I'm walking. But then I've had dreams where I'm walking and I either still have the ventilator attached to me or I still have the wheelchair with me, but I'm able to walk. It's always right by me. For the most part, as soon as I wake up, I see that I'm in my room, that I'm still paralyzed and then wishing I could kind of go back to my dream."

And yet with all that, Don Grossnickle, a Catholic deacon from Arlington Heights who co-founded The Gridiron Alliance with Komosa to help students with catastrophic injuries and featured him in his book "Unbreakable Resilience," called the paralyzed young man from Rolling Meadows "the most positive person I have ever known."

What an amazing epitaph.

"I have a lot of mixed and different emotions at times," Komosa says in the 2009 video, "but for the most part, I know that I can't really control that. You can't really control the world, so you never know what might happen."

So true. So true. Sometimes, the smallest seed there is can turn into one of the largest trees there is.

And those seeds are what newspapers are about as surely as the movie stars, the powerful men and women and the football heroes.

• Jim Slusher,, is an assistant managing editor at the Daily Herald. Follow him on Twitter and Facebook.

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