The Woodlands community quickly responded to Grant’s tragedy, and an outpouring of support rapidly emerged. Fundraising events were organized to generate funds to help Grant and his family deal with his injury and recovery. The community’s response was unbelievable. One of Grant’s good friends, Grant Farley, felt that he could do more; so, he contacted a media site specializing in Texas high school football and asked for help in spreading “the word”. The company was eager to help, and Grant Farley published an article (http://texashsfootball.com/thewoodlands- one-brother-to-another/) on their web site the next morning. Within hours of posting the article, JJ Watt of the Houston Texans responded with a $10,000 donation which led to ESPN, USA Today, and other major media outlets picking up the story. Grant Farley was working tirelessly meeting with local business, passing out flyers, and helping with fundraisers. He received an e-mail from a concerned parent who had a son playing the same position as Grant Milton but at the junior high level. Mel Saettone told Grant in her email that he inspired her, and she wanted to help him help his friend. Grant suggest that Mel meet him at the upcoming community fundraiser selling t-shirts at the local Chick-fil-A.
Mel showed up early to meet and help Grant; and they worked well together knowing they were making a difference. The fundraiser at Chick-fil-A exceeded all expectations, and Mel told Grant Farley she wanted to continue helping him in other fundraising efforts. Indeed she did, they designed 21Strong (Grant Melton’s football number was 21) tshirts and socks and sold them through a local clothing store and in an open air booth near The Woodlands Mall. They met many people who were eager to help, and heard many stories of traumatic brain injuries similar to that of Grant Melton. People responded to Grant Farley’s and Mel’s passion, and the two realized there were other “Grant Miltons” with a lot of caring people wanting to help.
When professional or college football players are injured, they get the best of doctors and treatment - the funds and structure are there to insure it. When a high school football player is injured, more often than not, he gets minimal help - there are no funds and minimal support. With traumatic brain injuries, the early treatment these high school players get determines if they will live and how much they will recover. Other than their family and sometimes their community, there is not much help for the injured high school player. Their families are devastated emotionally and financially and unprepared for the tremendous demands that are placed upon them. Grant Farley and Mel Saettone witnessed these short comings and answered a calling to help high school football players and their families suffering traumatic brain injuries; and thus, 21Strong Foundation was created.