The Garden City Telegram
11/4/2013
OPINIONS AND COMMENTARY

True victory

Injured high school athlete inspires in return to field.

As Satanta High School's football team rolled to an easy win Thursday over Deerfield, players and their fans no doubt were inspired by one team member in particular.

Anthony Crump, a freshman, sustained a serious injury in Satanta's home opener. With a cervical spine fracture and spinal cord injury, the early prognosis was grim.

On Thursday, however, the teen did what many people previously considered unthinkable: He attended the Indians' final regular season game.

Better yet, he was able to walk to midfield and present the game ball to officials before standing next to his teammates during the coin flip.

Crump still has a long way to go in his recovery. He arrived at the field by ambulance and was carted to the sidelines by team officials as Satanta faithful chanted his name and welcomed him back.

He also has more medical appointments and rehabilitation ahead.

But on Thursday, Crump proved he already has beaten the odds by walking onto the field to join his team before the game.

His injury also brought a sobering reminder of how the violent sport of football can lead to serious injury. Much talk of late at every level — from youth to the professional ranks — has focused on ways to make the game safer for participants, and for good reason. Head and spinal injuries in particular can change lives forever.

On Thursday in Satanta, however, the focus was more on "Team Anthony" and the teen's dramatic rebound from injury. And, it was an opportunity to spotlight an amazing show of support for the student-athlete and his family.

Donations and fundraisers organized by the high school, local residents and Midian Shriners of Wichita helped Crump's family with expenses related to travel, insurance, lodging, bills and food. The Shriners will continue to cover Crump's airfare to go back and forth to Shriners Hospital for Children in Chicago.

While all of the above efforts warrant enthusiastic applause, a loud cheer also should be reserved for a teenager whose spirit and determination no doubt helped put him on an inspirational and impressive road to recovery.