John McClamrock

JOHN McCLAMROCK, 51, died on 3/18/08 from respiratory problems arising from paralysis caused on 10/17/73 as a junior varsity special teamer with Hillcrest HS (TX).  Charging at a Spruce HS ball carrier on the opening kickoff, the 17-year-old junior broke his neck when his face struck the opponent’s thigh.  The tackle left McClamrock paralyzed from the neck down, unable to lie with his head elevated off a flat bed, or even sit in a wheel chair, for the rest of his life.  Doctors initially were unsure whether he would survive the trauma, but his mother, Ann McClamrock, rejected suggestions that the family place him in a nursing home or other institution for quadriplegia victims.  Instead she brought her son home and devoted the rest of her life to his daily care in his own bedroom.  She remained by John’s bedside day and night for the next 35 years, reading and watching television with him, feeding him, and tending to his health and hygiene needs.  When she left the room or went outside for church or shopping, it was only for an hour or two at a time. It was “a wonderful life together,” mother and son agreed.  For more than three decades, Ann never thought of herself as a hero.  “I’m just a mother,” she would say to friends, struck by her devotion.  Ann McClamrock collapsed on the morning of John’s funeral, and died eight weeks later.–“Youth Sports Hero of the Month: Ann McClamrock (North Dallas, Texas)”, 11/7/10, Douglas E. Abrams, J.D.

Colby Jorgensen

COLBY JORGENSEN, sophomore linebacker with BYU, collided with an offensive player in practice on 8/11/15 and lay motionless on the turf for 20 minutes with a broken neck and a slipped disc.  After being attended to by team medical personnel, he underwent emergency surgery later that day for a fracture-dislocation of the cervical spine and had 2 rods inserted in the front and back of his neck.  “It was pretty close,” his brother, Austen, said. “He’s pretty lucky he didn’t end up paralyzed.  I guess it was resting against his spinal cord.”  Austen said the family has seen more than its share of serious injuries, including Colby having to recover from a shredded spleen while in high school at Timpview that could’ve killed him.  Colby was married to his wife Lydia just a week prior.  He’s now facing a 6-month recovery process.–“BYU football linebacker Colby Jorgensen’s emergency surgery goes well after neck fracture”, 8/12/15, Jared Lloyd.  “BYU’s Jorgensen suffers serious neck injury, undergoes successful surgery”, 8/12/15, Jeff Call.

Robert Roll

ROBERT ROLL, 31, running back with Constantine HS (MI), playing in an alumni game on 7/3/15 sustained a helmet-to-helmet hit, was knocked unconscious, and suffered a shattered seventh cervical vertebra (his spinal cord is intact).  Roll was hospitalized at Bronson Methodist Hospital, where he underwent surgery the next day.  He’s likely to be transferred to a Grand Rapids rehabilitation center, where doctors say he’ll likely spend months working to regain use of his limbs.  Roll was hit by a White Pigeon player who is several years younger than Roll and owns his own gym.  Kevin Roll, the older brother of Robert Roll, said that his brother signed a waiver and there is no lawsuit pending.  “It’s one thing for young kids to play football,” he said. “But when you’ve done nothing like that for a long time, and then you get out there and start smashing people, it’s not going to turn out good.”  Though the alumni game has been a popular community fundraiser, there is considerable discussion about whether to continue the game.–“After devastating injury, alumni football games reconsidered”, 7/6/15, Julie Mack.


David Pollack

DAVID POLLACK, 30, linebacker with Cincinnati, 2005-07, suffered a career-ending neck injury in a collision with running back Reuben Droughns of Cleveland in 2006.  Immobile as he lay on the field, he suffered a fractured sixth cervical vertebra and later underwent spinal fusion surgery, having to wear a halo brace for 3 months.  Pollack missed the entire 2007 season while rehabbing and holding out hope that he could return, but retired in 2008.  The New Brunswick, NJ, native said his last play was a freak hit and that he’d been hit harder than that before.  Pollack now works with ESPN.–“No. 10 Bengals draft bust of all-time: David Pollack”, 4/19/15, Josh Kirkendall.

Chris Norton

CHRIS NORTON, 23, a former college football player who broke his neck during a game in 2010, said he was given a 3 percent chance of ever regaining movement below his neck.  On 5/23/15 he got engaged and the next day he walked across the stage at his graduation from Luther College in Decorah, IA, accomplishing a goal he had set over a year ago.  Assisted by his fiancee, Emily Summers, Norton rose from his wheelchair and took steps in front a cheering crowd to receive his diploma in business management, KCCI reported.  “It was like my gameday,” he told The Des Moines Register.  “I was in the zone, focusing on what I needed to do and not worrying about anyone or anything else.”  According to NBC, Norton has gradually regained movement while in therapy. He’s also launched a foundation called SCI CAN to help finance high-priced equipment for people recovering from spinal injuries.  In part to provide inspiration for spinal cord injury patients, he publicly declared he would walk at his ceremony.  Norton completed school a semester early to train for the big moment.  “And there’s still so many things I can accomplish.”–“Paralyzed Ex-Football Player Chris Norton Walked Again, Graduated And Got Engaged. How Was Your Weekend?”, 5/26/15, Ron Dicker.

Norman Panzarella

NORMAN PANZARELLA, 18, Grover Cleveland HS (NY), died in 1933 one day after being found unconscious at practice and was determined to have a broken neck.  Completely paralyzed below the chest, he was given first aid on the field and rushed to Millard Fillmore Hospital, where attendants entertained little hope for his recovery.  Also a track man who captured many honors on the cinder paths, Panzarella’s death caused the school to cancel its football season out of respect for his memory.–“When football is life and death”, 10/8/13, Mary Jo Monnin.

Cody Williams

CODY WILLIAMS, 21, defensive player with Santa Monica HS (CA), was 16 when he was instantly paralyzed on 9/11/09 while making a tackle.  The quarterback’s leg collided with Williams’ facemask with such force that his neck was snapped.  Most people with severe spinal cord injuries rarely survive a month or two.  It took 9 hours for doctors to stabilize the front and back of his neck.  When he awoke from surgery, he was able to move his left arm.  A week later, to his mother’s dismay, he had football on the TV in his hospital room.  “I’ve played football since I was eight – it teaches you a lot in life,” Williams said. “I still love the sport.”  Now taking night classes at Santa Monica College, Williams is raising money to purchase a specially outfitted pickup truck with a crane in the back and hand controls for the gas and brakes at

“Paralyzed Santa Monica High Alumnus Sets Sights On His First Set Of Wheels”, 4/3/15, Mariella Rudi, Santa Monica Mirror.

Corey Borner

COREY BORNER, 23, defensive back with DeSoto HS (TX), was paralyzed on 5/6/09 on the last play of a spring practice while making a hit with his head down. His C5 and C6 vertebrae were broken and he had surgery the next day. “I made a wrong hit…everything froze in my body.” He thought he wasn’t going to make it. His mother, Charlotte, says there are days when both she and her son cry. She preaches compassion for those with disabilities. Borner can use both arms and operates his manual wheelchair. Strengthened by his faith, he graduated from DeSoto, where his jersey was retired, and now speaks at schools, telling kids not to be scared to play football, which he still loves and watches. He would like to play football for just one more day.—“DeSoto team honors paralyzed player with retired jersey”, Fox 4 News 11/17/13, Heather Hays.

Seth Haynes

SETH HAYNES, 16, sophomore with Kingston HS (TN), broke his neck going for a tackle on the first play of the game on 10/18/13. He collapsed to the ground and was crying when head coach Brian Pankey reached him. Teammates hoped it was a stinger. Haynes underwent a 5 hour surgery to repair vertebrae in his neck, and was awake and talking afterward, able to move his hands and feet. His teammate, Daniel, said, “He’s the one that likes to joke and have fun.”—“Football Player Breaks Neck”, WVLT 10/21/13, Casey Wheeless.

Hayden Schaumberg

HAYDEN SCHAUMBERG, 16, junior with Watseka Community HS (IL), suffered a broken neck in a collision on a kick return in a game on 10/17/14.  He had emergency surgery but still could not move large parts of his body afterward.  “It’s probably been one of the worst weekends of my whole life,” said Steven Lucas, Watseka’s head coach, a close personal friend of Hayden’s family.  Hayden’s mother, Jolyn, said that she does not blame the Central player who collided with her son.  According to the Youth Sports Safety Alliance, there have been 47 football-related spinal cord injuries between 2007 and 2011 from which the player never fully recovered.  In 7 cases in 2010, alone, 7 players were permanently disabled. The Illinois High School Association has discussed eliminating kickoffs from the game.  Contributions can be made to a trust fund at 1st Trust and Saving Bank/120 E Walnut St/Watseka Il 60970/C/O Hayden.—“While Watseka rallies around Hayden, the question of safety in football returns”, 10/20/14, Lee Provost & Kyle Games.

4/18/15 Schaumberg Update: Illinois Coach Tim Beckman and his team were so inspired by Hayden Schaumberg’s recovery from his October 2014 spinal injury that he was named honorary coach for the team’s spring game. Schaumberg, who spent many days doing 6 hours of rehab, walked onto the field without a sign of his injury. “I feel normal again. That sense of normalcy is back again.”—“Injured football player named honorary coach”, 4/20/15, Gary Brode & Maggie Hockenberry.