How Hollywood Changed the True Story Behind This Weekend's Inspirational Hit

The short but impactful life of Caroline "Line" Found is explored in the new inspirational film The Miracle Season, arriving this weekend from LD Entertainment. Directed by Sean McNamara (Soul Surfer), the film stars Academy Award-winning actress Helen Hunt as Caroline's volleyball coach, Kathy Bresnahan; Danika Yarosh as Caroline; Erin Moriarty as a teammate, Kelly; and Academy Award-winning actor William Hurt as Ernie Found, Caroline's father.

Ernie, who recently retired from his position in the Orthopedic Surgery department at the University of Iowa, recently opened up about how it felt to have his daughter's story play on film, why now was the right time to tell the story, and how his personal faith was affected by the tragedy.

I know this story, it's very personal story for you, but it's so inspirational.

Our whole goal and our whole hope is if we can help just a single person to make decisions differently or look at things differently or they want a more positive direction, it will have been worth the effort.

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When I saw this story, I kept thinking of the phrase "beauty for ashes," you know, it's a beautiful story out of the broken.

Yes, I sometimes use the term it's bittersweet, right?

So while they're making the film about your daughter's life, I would imagine visiting the set might be a tricky thing.

Well, I went to the set on two different occasions each time for a couple days, and they filmed for 8-10 weeks or so. So I was there very little. I went mainly, I went to see how this whole movie business process occurs, which is overwhelming to me. And I wanted to take a pulse on the whole scenario, right? I was just there for a few limited things. But I enjoyed myself immensely, and to get to know all the people that were involved and they continuously kept coming to me saying, "We're so happy and honored to be part of this, and we just want to do it right." So it was very, very gratifying for me in that regard.

There are some questions of faith in the movie where you struggle with losing your daughter and wife. And I would imagine those are the things that kind of rang authentic with me where you're questioning God about it.

There was one scene I guess where I kind of am on the telephone or something and say something like, "God hasn't been around here very much for me lately" and I hang up. I have to admit that that was Hollywood-ized. I didn't really say that. It never felt that way, but I understand it then came to resolution later on. And so I was OK with me that they started on part of making the movie is conflict and resolution and so as long as it turned into direction it did.

So you didn't have the amount of the questioning that was portrayed in the movie?

I did not. ... You know, it's not a just bow down and say, "Lord, Ellen and Caroline are all yours" now, but I very rarely would lie in bed and think about why. Once in a while, yes. But the more I tried to find an answer or rely on others to try and help find an answer, I realized there really is not one that covers all the bases and that there's more meaning that we may not realize. I'm okay with that because, there's more to life than our ability to be here.

You had been approached previously about making a film out of this story. Why was now the right moment?

Well, it was conversations with (producer) David Aaron Cohen and (director) Sean McNamara. It became clear that they understood the story and didn't just want to "Please sign on the dotted line here so we can take it away," right? David in particular promised "I am going to do everything I can to make this story meaningful." Trust developed.

Do you still have a relationship with Kathy and the girls from the team?

Kathy and I have both grown through this process. ... She was my daughter's a volleyball coach and my daughter Catherine's volleyball coach, too. Parents and coaches sometimes purposely maintain a little distance, probably is necessary.

Who else believed in this story? There was an HBO special, right?

Frank Deford was the chief editor for Sports Illustrated for many, many years, and I used to read his articles and I was in college, anything he wrote about, whether it was competitive synchronized swimming, whatever. I would read because he was just such a wonderful writer, and for a win for him to come out and be involved, and for him to be as genuine and sincere and man, he, he is. He helped me immensely and you know, and it's, he did it under no pretenses, just by being himself and looking and looking you in the eye and talking and listening. Here's a man who was, you know, he interviewed Mammad Ali 50 times, and he was right there hanging together. I just want to thank him for his efforts. He passed away about six months ago or so.

DeWayne Hamby is a communications specialist and longtime journalist covering faith-based music, entertainment, books and the retail industry. He is also the editor of the White Wing Messenger, director of communications for the Church of God of Prophecy and author of the book Gratitude Adjustment. Connect with him at or on Twitter - @dewaynehamby.

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