Tarleton State is rallying around one of its own with an outpouring of support for seriously injured Texan football player Chance Wallace.
Wallace, a sophomore defensive back from Canton, suffered a crushed C6 vertebrae in a snowboarding accident in Colorado on March 9. He was on vacation with his family on the opening weekend of Tarleton's spring break.
"It just broke me when I heard the news," said Tarleton football head coach Cary Fowler. "He's such a good kid from a great family, and one week he's here competing to be our starting safety next fall and the next he's fighting just to walk again."
And at first, it appeared he wouldn't.
Wallace underwent spinal surgery in Colorado, then was transported by air to Dallas on March 14.
"Initially, after the surgery, doctors in Colorado told the family that it was a 'complete spinal injury,' meaning that was it, there wasn't much else that could be done," Fowler said. "But since he's been back in Texas, that outlook has changed."
For the better. Doctors at the Baylor Institute for Rehabilitation in Frisco have since classified the injury as "incomplete," giving Wallace hope.
"From what I understand talking to doctors and to Chance is that the true extent of many spinal injuries won't be known until 6-8 weeks after surgery," Fowler said. "You go into spinal shock, and you have to wait for that to end before you really know what you're facing long term."
Wallace suffers no cognitive troubles, even doing homework in the rehab center.
"He's still in class and his teachers have been phenomenal. Even in the classes where he can't get everything off 'Blackboard' online, his teachers have found a way to get him his assignments so he can keep up," Fowler said. "That's so important because he gets to continue progressing in his academic life and doing things to improve himself even while he's dealing with this unfortunate injury."
Wallace has full use of much of his upper body, though Fowler noted he has had trouble with his right hand.
"He's able to pull himself up on his own and things like that," Fowler said. "The big thing is whether he'll be able to walk."
Fowler says Wallace has regained some feeling in his legs.
"He's improving already, I just hope that continues once we get past the spinal shock phase and we know more about it," the coach said.
Fowler said he has received countless letters of encouragement and other tokens of concern that have come through the football office, and that Facebook well-wishers have come out in droves. There are also a number of fundraisers under way to help the Wallace family with medical expenses.
The Lambda Theta Sigma organization is hosting a bake sale benefiting Wallace next Tuesday through Thursday in the Thompson Student Center. It will include a decorate your own cupcake and cookie bar.
Tarleton women's basketball player Morgan Ashmore, Wallace's girlfriend, is selling T-shirts to raise funds, and Fowler said they will be sold at the football program's annual spring scrimmage on April 11. Coaches are also accepting donations for the Wallace family. Fowler said checks or other forms of donation may be addressed to Chance Wallace ? Tarleton State football, Box T-0080, Stephenville, TX, 76402.
"Chance is going to fight, I know that about him. But it's a long, hard fight," Fowler said. "He's a Tarleton Texan for life, and we're going to be there for him any way we can."