"Hold Fast to Dreams" Tour Starring Vince Papale
"Hold fast to dreams, for if dreams die, life is a broken winged bird that cannot fly." —Langston Hughes
In 1976, at the age of 30, Vince Papale attended an open tryout and made the Philadelphia Eagles football team, becoming the oldest rookie in the history of the NFL. His story is told in the Walt Disney Pictures film Invincible starring Mark Wahlberg.
As a former Sallie Mae employee and a frequent presenter of The Sallie Mae Fund's Paying for College workshops, Vince Papale spent many years encouraging high school students to dream for college. Through The Sallie Mae Fund's fall 2006 "Hold Fast to Dreams" tour — inspired by the Langston Hughes poem often cited by Coach Vermeil in the Eagles locker room — Vince shared with students the importance of higher education in his life. Before he was a football legend, he was the first in his family to attend and graduate from college. He grew up in a working-class neighborhood where getting a job was a struggle and kids had trouble staying in school. During the tour, The Sallie Mae Fund awarded $50,000 in scholarships to students in Philadelphia, Newark, N.J., Orlando, St. Louis and Los Angeles.