A fall football game that had no losing team and forever altered the outcome of one player and one Flower Mound family’s lives is the inspiration for an upcoming movie called “One Heart”.
The story, however, doesn’t stop when the movie ends because as Flower Mound resident Carmen Studer explains, she wants it to be not only a movie, but a movement.
The One Heart Project was born of a desire to “put a dent in what’s happening in the streets of America,” Studer says. The story of how the lives of the Studer family intersected with the life of the then 16-year-old Mack White has been compared to the story featured in the movie “The Blind Side”.
It was the football team from Faith Christian Academy in Grapevine that had an unusual game on their schedule that November night in 2008. They weren’t playing another private school, or even a public school, but instead that night on the field they met a team of football players from a maximum security prison for juveniles in Gainesville.
It’s a story of more than the final score, as faith and compassion prompted the private school cheerleaders to cheer on their own team and the opposing team equally and also resulted in a family from Flower Mound taking in Mack, one of the opposing players and also a convicted felon and ex-gang member, to love as one of their own.
Carmen Studer says the name of the movie and project “One Heart” comes from the coach of the Faith Academy football team, whose mantra was, “Have one heart for all people despite their circumstances.” Taking the coach’s advice, Studer says the project will mentor inmates and help them develop tools needed to re-enter society as productive citizens.
That’s exactly what the Studer family did for Mack. After his release from prison, they ended up extending an invitation for him, a young man of a different race and from different life circumstances, to live in their home while he got his feet on the ground.
His one year stay in Flower Mound resulted in a love between the Studer’s and Mack, who now consider each other family. At Thanksgiving this year, Mack was amidst the Studer family for the second year in a row. “There was a lot of eating and talking, and we just had fun watching the Cowboys game,” Mack said in describing a holiday that he could have only imagined just a couple of years ago.
Mack, now 21-years-old, leads a very different life than he did before that football game. He is a model, an actor and a motivational speaker who will soon audition for a role in the One Heart movie, a screenplay that tells the story of a character similar to him.
Just five years ago, Mack was convicted of aggravated robbery and sentenced to the maximum security prison for juveniles. His mother had already abandoned him, and his father once told his son he would never amount to anything. The movie will detail the plight of a similar character that ends up getting a second chance in life.
Steve Riach of Colleyville, lead producer of the One Heart film, said they are now in the pre-production stage, with production to begin in the next few months. The story they will tell, he said, is powerful. “It’s been way beyond what we thought it would be. Real life is always better than fiction.”
For Mack, it certainly seems like a storybook ending. Not only does he have his own apartment, but he is living a productive life and already giving back to the community through the One Heart Project. “I’m just really excited about the whole movement. Families that go to this movie will get inspired.”
Riach said the project has already kicked off with a staff hired to run the non-profit. “This is an organization where people can participate in being able to change lives like Mack’s.”
For more information about the movie or the project, visit www.oneheart.com.