The Gridiron Heroes

Feb 14, 2011
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The Gridiron Heroes are a group of individuals with Spinal Cord Injury that provides emotional support to players injured during a football game.  Their mission is to provide “immediate, as well as, long term resources and support to individuals sustaining a catastrophic spinal cord injury through activities associated with high school football.”  It began almost ten years ago when Chris Canales, a high school senior, with three offers to play college football, got tackled during a big game.  He heard his team call out “Chris, come on, let’s go”. Chris could not move and stayed on the field motionless for 19 minutes.  He had sustained a spinal cord injury which left him unable to move anything below his shoulders.  Chris’ father, Eddie, quit his job to become his son’s caregiver.

As Chris’ condition became more stable, he began to struggle with depression.  Eddie decided he would cheer him up by taking him to a high school football game.  At that game, almost one year since Chris’ accident, a player, Corey Fulbright, got tackled, sustaining a spinal cord injury.  Chris’s reaction was one of compassion as he told his father “Dad, we’ve got to go help him. I know what he (Corey) is going to go through, and you know what the family will have to go through.”

It was at a hospital visit to the injured player that the Gridiron Heroes was created.

According to Eddie, “We try to provide information, inspiration and hope. We want to make sure they don’t feel alone.”

Chris helps to give confidence to the injured player while his father gives assistance to their family.  They discuss both the emotional and financial issues that will arrive alongside the injury.  According to the Gridiron Heroes website, in the first three months, the costs for a spinal cord injury can range from $150,000 to $500,000.  High School foot ball player’s families have a hard time covering the costs for such an injury.  The Gridiron Heroes have helped families in this situation by arranging fundraising efforts, buying wheelchairs and accessible vans, retrofitting homes for accessibility, and installing wheelchair ramps.

To learn more about Gridiron Heroes visit: http://www.gridironheroes.org/

Author: Melissa