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Eddie & Chris Canales - Inspirational & Motivational Stories

Gridiron Heroes: Eddie And Chris Canales  Help Disabled Football Players Start Over

Everyone has their respective life changing moments. Sooner or later, one is faced with a situation which requires them to adapt and in most cases, change they way they live. For Eddie Canales, there were two such incidents. Both occurred on the football field.

The first happened on November 2, 2001, the day he was watching his son Chris' football game in San Marcos, Texas. He was a high school senior and already had three offers to play college football. With four minutes left in the fourth quarter of that game, he made a touchdown-saving tackle. However, he could not move after that. Something went seriously wrong. The doctors at the hospital told Eddie and his wife that their son had suffered a spinal cord injury. If Chris survived, he'd probably never be able to move anything below his shoulders.

Eddie Canales was heartbroken to watch his son go from a promising young athlete to paralyzed and wheelchair-bound. Eddie quit his job to become his full-time caregiver. The sword of not knowing whether his son would ever walk again hung over him. Towards the first anniversary of his injury, Chris was struggling with depression. Eddie invited him out to do something he'd always enjoyed, watching high school football to cheer him up. That same afternoon, they relived the horror. A player went down and lay immobilized on the field. Eddie and Chris knew immediately that it was a spinal cord injury. They looked at each other and knew they had to help. That was Eddie's life calling. Soon afterwards, Gridiron Heroes, a nonprofit organization was born to help athletes who have suffered spinal cord injuries while playing high school football. Currently, it includes 19 injured players from Texas who have come together in solidarity. They help families raise money to pay medical bills, afford wheelchairs and ramps.

Eddie and Chris have spent countless hours and most of his time in traveling around the country every month meeting with football coaches and trainers at conferences. Their goal is to raise awareness about their work and encourage coaches to teach proper hitting technique which minimizes the chances of head and spinal cord injuries.

Medical expenses for such injuries are astronomical running into thousands of dollars every year. Although the Gridiron Heroes wasn't started to give families financial support, Eddie devotes a lot of time educating people about it. The group also helps raise money for the families. In addition, the group also helps buy wheelchairs and wheelchair-accessible vehicles as well as remodel homes with ramps and wheelchair-accessible bathrooms. Eddie even sends each family a $100 Walmart gift card to help buy necessary supplies each month.

"We try to provide information, inspiration and hope," says Eddie. We are not surprised that he is also a CNN Hero.

Eddie would not have been able to do what he did without saying to himself, "I will do it." He focused on what he had, a son with a spinal injury, and turned it into his life's calling to help people with spinal injury.

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