Chasing Ro-Na dream

Published 11:12 am Tuesday, November 11, 2014

In an early scene in “Rudy,” the greatest, most inspirational movie ever filmed (nobody will ever convince me otherwise), Rudy Ruettiger’s father, Daniel, meets his undersized, academically challenged son at a bus station in an attempt to stop him from pursuing his goal of attending the prestigious University of Notre Dame and playing football for The Fighting Irish.

“Chasing a stupid dream causes nothing but you and everyone around you heartache,” his well-intentioned yet sparsely educated old man opined. “Notre Dame is for rich kids, smart kids, great athletes. It’s not for us.”

Daniel Ruettiger was unwittingly encouraging his son to fail, to accept the status quo and dismiss his imagination and hope for a successful future. He urged Rudy to work at the same mill where he and Rudy’s brothers, Frank and John, worked.

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Without realizing it, Rudy’s father preached the poison of conformity. He was asking Rudy to live below his potential and settle into a life beneath his dreams.

Rudy responded by telling his father, “I don’t want to be Frank or John.” He boarded the bus and followed his dreams, alone. Upon entering South Bend, Indiana, the place where those dreams were sown, Rudy met a man appropriately named Fortune, who would ultimately encourage him to dream big.

And dream big, he did.

If you’ve seen the movie, you know Rudy suffered multiple setbacks while following his dream. You know he never let any roadblock stop him from finding a new path to his goal.

Oftentimes, visions defy logic. Rudy’s did.

Now, roll back time a decade or so and picture the Friends of Ironton as they entered the Ro-Na Theater and gazed at a floor full of ceiling. The dilapidated building was an eyesore.

Few would have taken on the task of rebuilding this once mighty symbol of Ironton prominence. Where most saw a worthless shell of Ironton’s past, the Friends saw opportunity for the city’s future.

The Friends had the foresight to understand a revitalized Ro-Na could spark a resurgence of downtown business, which would benefit the entire community.

Today, after literally thousands of hours of work by FOI and those who volunteer to help, the Ro-Na is breathing again. A new marquee lights the downtown and signals coming attractions to the theater.

Ironton-native Mickey Fisher’s dream-turned-destiny was showcased here. Major acts such as Saving Abel, along with ultra-popular local act Executive Chef, have filled the place and given Ironton an entertainment identity.

This identity will be greater in the future. As the Ro-Na progresses, so does downtown Ironton. It’s simple math: One plus one equals more.

But it’s up to us as a community to determine where the Ro-Na goes from here. Do we want that simple math to continue, as in one plus one plus one into infinity?

Or do we tell our kids, as Daniel Ruettiger did, that chasing dreams is a stupid idea?

Rudy proved dreaming big is for winners.

I say we dream.


Billy Bruce is a freelance writer who lives in Pedro. He can be contacted at