Former star Mercedes running back who lost limbs in fire gets recognition
Good coaching goes far beyond the confines of any game.
"I want these kids to have a chance in the future," Rene Ayala said.
Coach Ayala tries to teach his players life skills like discipline, respect and the importance of heart.
Michael Medina's son is on the coach TMs La Feria youth league football team.
He says the coach inspires everyone.
"He's a big influence on my son," he said. "He loves playing for him. He actually looks forward to coming to practice."
The coach is a former district title winner in the early 90's as a high school running back in Mercedes.
But four years after graduating, tragedy struck.
Rene's life changed forever in a house fire.
He was sleeping at the time of the blaze.
The flames burned nearly his entire body.
He lost both arms and legs as a result of the fire.
But don't think for a second, he lets his disability stand in his way.
His coaching is considered nothing less than an inspiration.
"He does everything that every other coach can do," the parent said. Nothing stops this guy."
That's why Michael wants to Pay it 4Ward.
He surprised his son's coach during practice in the La Feria High School gym.
"I know you don't know why I called Action 4 News," he said to Coach Ayala. "The way you do everything for them. You get on the floor| the way you show them how to tackle| where to go| what gaps to use. I love that and I see that. You're an awesome coach. On behalf of Action 4 News and FNB Insurance, I'd like to Pay it Ward. Here's 400 dollars."
"Man I'm speechless here," the coach said with a smile in response to the surprise. "I'm just doing this because it's what I love doing with teaching the kids. Man, talk about catching me off guard!"
Coaching gives Rene a chance to forget about his physical challenges, according to him.
He hopes his players learn to never give up.
"If I don't quit, they won't quit," he said. "This is just my way of teaching them regardless of what happens to you, you need to continue moving forward."
FNB Insurance provides the cash for kindness as Pay it 4Ward partner on Action 4 News.
"It's so nice to meet somebody who's been such an inspiration to so many children," Karen Gonzalez, spokesperson said. "You've taught them the greatest life lesson of all which is perseverance.
Inspiring others from the heart; it's one more way to "Pay it 4Ward."
The coach says the $400 couldn't have come at better time.
He plans to use his Pay it 4Ward prize to help with bills.