Flyer Brian Propp Standing Tall Through It All!

There is no doubt that hockey players are some of the toughest athletes in the world. How many people can have their teeth knocked out or their faces sliced from a skate one minute and the next be racing around a sheet of ice chasing a rock solid piece of rubber? Brian Propp is one of those people. The Propper thrilled Flyers fans for over 10 years with his high skill and hardnosed hockey. His career accomplishments rank him among some of the greatest left wings in the history of hockey. His Flyers scoring totals of 369 goals, 480 assists and 849 points rank him third on the Flyers all-time scoring list. His 20 shorthanded goals and his plus-311 rating, as a Flyer, prove that Propp was no one trick pony. Propp was a great player in all zones, not just in the offensive one.

Like all hockey players Propp had his share of injuries, the most significant of which came during the 1986-87 season when he blew out his knee and missed 27 games. That season the Flyers staged an epic battle against the Wayne Gretzky led Edmonton Oilers in the Stanley Cup Finals. The Flyers lost in 7 games, but Propp played the greatest hockey of his life in those playoffs and set a Flyers record with 28 playoff points.

Over the years I have gotten to know Propper and I consider him a friend. He was there with help when I started my charity four years ago. September of 2015 was a very difficult time for me. I was preparing to undergo the removal of my large intestine due to a severely precancerous condition. Little did anyone know that that same month Propp was facing a very serious health crisis as well. During a weekend family getaway, Propp suffered a severe stroke. The stroke knocked him off of his feet causing him to lose some teeth. He was rushed to the hospital where the stroke was diagnosed. In a flash, this great athlete had severely limited movement on his right side and he lost his ability to speak. But like any hockey player, he fought back from adversity. He spent a month in Magee Rehabilitation Hospital, in Philadelphia, where he relearned how to walk and speak again. Amazingly, in less than a year Propper was not only walking and talking, he was back on the ice, playing hockey!

When Propper played professional hockey, he was on a mission. His mission was to win. Today Propp is still on a mission. That mission is to share his story in the hopes of saving others from the terrible stroke he suffered. Propp’s stroke was caused by Atrial fibrillation or A-fib. Affecting over 2 million people in America, A-fib is the most common type of irregular heartbeat. It reduces the heart’s ability to pump blood into the ventricles. Sometimes there are no symptoms with A-fib and the only way a person finds out they have it is during an EKG. Other times there are symptoms such as rapid heartbeat, fatigue, dizziness, faintness, shortness of breath and more. A-fib is a serious health condition that requires medical attention. If it is not treated, it can cause heart failure, kidney problems and blood clots. The blood clots can travel from the heart to the brain causing stroke. That is what happened to Propp.

Always being one to help others, Propp is doing all he can to get the word out about how to deal with A-fib and how to prevent stroke. One way to prevent strokes from A-fib is to make sure to get A-fib under control. Medications called anticoagulants such as Warfarin, Eliquis, Xarelto and Pradaxa can help reduce the chance of stroke. There are also medicines called antiarrhythmics that help those with A-fib return to a regular heart rhythm.

On a personal note, Propper was one of my boyhood heroes, today he is a friend. There is one story that will illustrate exactly who Brian and his wife Kris are. Brian had his stroke in early September of 2015. My surgery was scheduled for September 24, 2015. At the time of my surgery, Brian was going through his extremely demanding rehabilitation. Kris, who was a rock for Brian, was, I am sure, fighting through terrible sadness watching Brian struggle. Despite all of their struggles and pain, Kris texted my wife, Amy, to let her know that she and Brian wished me luck and asked her to let them know how my surgery went. I think that is a testament to what kind of people they are. They are always thinking of others, even when they have every reason in the world to be thinking about themselves.

I am pretty sure that if Propper’s story can save lives, he would look at the terrible stroke that struck him as a blessing rather than a curse. Many times when you meet a hero, especially a childhood hero, you are let down because they are not what you expected them to be. In the case of Brian Propp that is not an issue. Please share this podcast, it may save a life!

Justin Mirigliani
The Warrior Life

Dan and Beth Wheeler: Fame, Faith and Miracles

Does God speak with us? And if he does, how does God communicate with us? I had the pleasure of interviewing a man who quite literally has had communication with God. I met Dan Wheeler when I was hired by Dell Computers to present their computers on QVC. QVC, which stand for Quality, Value, Convenience, is a TV station based out of West Chester, Pennsylvania on which viewers can shop and purchase items from their homes. I was new to the television business and it took some time to get used to broadcasting to hundreds of millions of viewers. Dan, one of the most famous of the hosts on QVC, took time to give me pointers. He was kind and understanding when I did make mistakes. He was also always ready to give me a thumbs up for a job well done. I never forgot that!

Before and in between shows, Dan and I often had a chance to talk. Most of those conversations revolved around faith and family. Dan is one of the most devoted family men I have ever met. At the time, I was just married and had no kids, but through Dan I could feel the joy of being a daddy. He would gush over his children and share what was going on with his daughter’s college lacrosse team. He loved being a lacrosse dad! Now that I am a dad of two daughters I understand Dan’s feelings. I don’t think it is possible to know Dan without understanding how much he loved his wife, Beth. He was so proud of the family they had built together, as well he should have been.

Eventually I parted ways with Dell and was no longer on QVC. Although I was no longer a part of QVC, I was still a member and did a lot of shopping on the channel. I was still recovering from the surgery to remove my entire large intestine when I turned on QVC on the night of the Super Bowl. I was curious to see what kinds of Super Bowl merchandise they were selling, after the Broncos beat the Panthers. That is when I heard Dan say something about his “late wife Beth.” I sat there stunned. I was hoping I had heard him wrong, so I jumped online hoping to see that I would be unable to confirm his words. Sadly, I heard correctly. Beth had passed away after a battle with cancer. I immediately ached for Dan and sent him my condolences. I also felt a closeness with both Dan and Beth, because while they were going through their terrible time, I was in the middle of my severe health crisis. Even though I did not have colon cancer, yet, I was on the verge of it and because of that I was now living with a permanent ileostomy bag. Cancer had done damage to both the Wheeler and the Mirigliani families.

While I continued to pray for Dan, Beth and the rest of the Wheeler family, we didn’t have any more contact for months. That would change, however. One night I had a very vivid dream. I dreamt that I was sitting in the QVC cafeteria eating my lunch when Dan walked in. I immediately got up from my lunch and gave him a big hug and told him how sorry I was for the loss of Beth. I knew then, that I wanted, or maybe need, to contact Dan.

Because of what I have been through, I knew I wanted to give hope to others. My podcasts and blogs are meant to be positive messages and highlight people who are doing good things for this world. I was very sure that I wanted Dan to be one of my initial guests on my program. Here is some of the letter I wrote him back in July of 2016.

“I grew up Catholic and still attend Catholic Church, but I certainly would not be considered an institutional Catholic. To me, the church I attend is much less important than my relationship with God the Father and with Christ. I don’t believe God is a magician who does tricks on command for us, but I do believe he gives us signs, if only we are open to them. I have had many, unmistakable, signs over my lifetime. I will give you just one to explain what I mean. Amy and I were coming home from a consultation with surgeon, Dr. Michael Harris. I had just been told that I may have colon cancer and that it was 99% likely that I would need my entire large intestine removed and be fitted with a permanent ileostomy bag. You can imagine how devastating that felt.
On the way home we were discussing my options. One of which was deciding if I should have Dr. Harris do the surgery, way up near NYC, or have it done closer to home. Dr. Harris is the preeminent colorectal surgeon in the world, but the thought of having massive surgery done so far from home was not something that made me feel comfortable. I was agonizing over the decision, in my mind. Finally, I asked Amy what she thought I should do. No sooner did the words leave my lips when a truck with the name “Harris Trucking” pulled right up besides our car, on the NJ Turnpike. As if that was not enough, not 5 minutes later we got a call from my in-laws telling us that my youngest daughter hit her head on a counter and had to be taken to the pediatrician. Her normal pediatrician was not there. The on-call doctor’s name? Dr. Harris! Of course I was not happy about my daughter being injured, but I made the decision right then and there that Dr. Harris would be my surgeon. To me, the signs are not the truck being there or Rebecca being injured and being treated by Dr. Harris. The signs are that I was keenly aware of finding God’s message in those circumstances. This is just one example of many signs I have received from God. God has spoken to me after the deaths of people I love. He has also spoken to me at times in my life, where I was lost and had to make life altering decisions. There is more to that than meets the eye. I can easily tell people of my Ulcerative Colitis and my ileostomy, but what I have always kept guarded is my mental illness. I was born with clinical depression, obsessive compulsive disorder, an anxiety disorder and ADHD (although they did not diagnose that when I was a child). My whole life I have been fearful that people would think I was a freak or strange because I suffer with these mental disorders. In my case, I was doomed from birth. Depression runs rampant on both sides of my family. When I say doomed, I don’t mean that I have had a bad life, what I am saying is that my issues were not learned, they were inherited. I really believe that God knows my struggles and has given me a gift of receiving messages from Him with an awareness that, perhaps, not all people have. I don’t hear voices or commands, but I do feel His loving hand guiding me. It sounds like you have similar feelings.”

During time of Beth’s transition to Heaven, Dan had created a blog. To read it, here is the link. There are many heartbreaking stories that Dan shares along with many heartwarming stories that he shares on his blog. Out of all of the incredible miracles Dan shares on his blog this one is my favorite.

“Here is an amazing miracle. On Saturday, October 24th one of my best friends, Brian, flew in from California. I had John, the lead singer from Blue Sky Band, pick up Brian who is also a musician. John, his wife Joey and Brian arrived late at night and I went out to meet them in the driveway. As we talked, I noticed that John wasn’t saying much. He had a rather odd expression on his face. After they left I mentioned something about it to Brian and he said John had been very talkative on the way from the airport. I didn’t give it another thought until the next morning.

When I came out to get coffee on Sunday, October 25th, my sister, Mary Jane told me that I needed to talk to John. I called John and he came over the next night and told me that he didn’t want me to think that he was weird but while I was talking with him in the driveway the night before he saw a large being standing about 8-9 feet tall right behind me. He said there was bright, shimmering light coming off of the being and it appeared to be wearing a cloak and robe. The light was so bright that he had to look away. He said when he looked back at me it was gone but as I kept talking it appeared again and he had to look away once more because it was so bright. I said, “John, what do you think you saw?” He said, “I think I saw an angel!” I said, “I did too!” (Miracle #16) I was so comforted to know angels were surrounding us all during such an extremely difficult time.”

There is no doubt in my mind that this was a direct sign from God! Dan and his family had been suffering so badly and God wanted them to know that He was right there with them. I don’t believe that God takes suffering away from us, but I do believe that He is right there during the suffering.

Obviously, I wish that Beth had recovered from her cancer. Obviously Dan and his family wish the same thing. But if there is any positive to come from such a terrible situation, it is that God’s love has shone through the darkness. I hope you enjoy listening to Dan discuss his incredible faith and his signs directly from his Father!