Spindler’s Unsung Hero award still paying dividends 32 years later
Mount St. Joseph graduate Christopher Spindler was the McCormick UH honoree in 1983, earning a scholarship that still impacts his life in a positive way
On Dec. 2, 1983, Christopher Spindler, then a senior at Mount St. Joseph High School, was scheduled to be an usher in a friend’s wedding. He had to alter those plans, however, when he was named as his school’s McCormick Unsung Hero honoree. With his brother standing in for him at the wedding, Spindler and his father attended the banquet and it turned out to be an evening that still impacts his life in a positive way, 32 years later, as he was named as the 44th winner of the Charles P. McCormick Scholarship that evening. Spindler described himself as the type of player who was always the first one on the field and the last one off. He had wanted to play football at Mount St. Joe from the time he attended his first game there at five years of age, but as one of six siblings, he knew his parents had to make sacrifices to send him to the school. His mom went back to work to help make it possible and he still remembers the pride of learning he would be his team’s Unsung Hero. “My coach was Bro. Bob Flaherty. He told me the prior year that I had the qualities of an Unsung Hero and that if I continued to work just as hard, I had a chance for the honor as a senior,” said Spindler. “He told me privately when he picked me, but then he announced it front of the entire team. It was a very proud moment.” There was one person, however, who cherished the award most of all. “The award blessed my life, but it also blessed my family, especially my grandmother. She was there to see me receive my diploma in Economics from the University of Maryland Baltimore County. She was there to see me buy my first home right after graduation and start my first business four years later,” said Spindler. “These were significant events in my grandmother’s life. She never had the opportunity to receive an education, never owned a home, and became a young widow while raising six children. The McCormick Unsung Hero award was so much more to my family than a trophy and a scholarship. It was an opportunity of hope to accomplish more in life than my parents had and their parents had before them. It was an opportunity they never had available to them.” Spindler’s grandmother lived one mile from St. Joe’s Irvington campus and Spindler would walk to her apartment after school, waiting for his mother to get off of work and pick him up.
“My grandmother always had a fresh, cold glass of ice tea and a few cookies perfectly placed on the table, leaving plenty of space for my books to begin my homework,” recalled Spindler. “She would sit down to share her wisdom, briefly, never too long to interfere with my studies. My grandmother was so proud and she would say, ‘You work so hard. Keep working hard and that (college) scholarship will come. I pray for you every day.’” With former WMAR and current ESPN sportscaster John Saunders hosting the locally televised dinner, and famed New York Giants General Manager George Young serving as the keynote speaker, Spindler saw his grandmother’s prayers answered. Spindler still remembers his first thoughts upon hearing his name called as the winner. “Oh gosh, I have to give a speech was the first thing that flashed through my mind. Quickly, my thoughts went to my grandmother, who predicted God would provide a scholarship.” Spindler credits his C.P. McCormick Scholarship for allowing him to graduate from college debt free and get ahead early in life. “Thanks to the McCormick Unsung Hero Scholarship I was able to stay debt free. I was able to save and invest every dollar I earned while in college. I was in a great financial position after graduation that afforded me more opportunities, such as starting my own business and being a stay-at-home dad.” Spindler operated a successful vending company. He and his wife Laurie then started and sold a pair of successful retail stores, before moving to Florida and spending eight years working at Walt Disney World. Last year, however, Spindler and his wife decided to dedicate their lives to service and became missionaries with Family Life Ministries and will soon move to Little Rock, Arkansas to serve. “We are focused on family and marriage ministry providing help and hope to those families in desperate need,” said Spindler. “We are fortunate to be able to give back and to be in a financial position to help fund our mission with our ministry partners.” Spindler will never forget the opportunity that made it all possible. “Thank you McCormick & Company on behalf of every past recipient, and those still to come, for giving back and impacting our lives. We truly appreciate this precious gift you have awarded us that will change our lives forever. As for my wife and I, we proudly honor your name to others as you have afforded us the opportunity to give back and serve others.” On May 2, 2016, the 76th McCormick Unsung Heroes banquet will take place in Cockeysville, with University of Maryland Women’s Basketball Head Coach Brenda Frese serving as the keynote speaker. That night two young athletes, one male and one female, will have their lives impacted in a similar manor as that of Christopher Spindler. As it did for him, perhaps the C.P. McCormick Scholarship will be paying dividends for the fortunate winners for decades to come.