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Saturday in Arlington, AT&T Stadium hosted a big high school football event – a tripleheader of state championship games in Texas’s largest classifications. For DeSoto High School supporters, the trip from south of Dallas to Tarrant County would prove especially rewarding. Not only did their varsity squad win the school’s first state title that afternoon, a former player on the Eagles’ JV squad scored an important victory of his own.

A 2009 practice collision cost Corey Borner the use of his legs. When his devastating injury happened, a charity called Gridiron Heroes reached out to Borner. Eddie Canales and his son Chris helped the then-teenager and his family adjust to his new situation, as they steadfastly do for any high school football player who suffers a paralyzing injury playing the game they love.

On Saturday, the Canales clan, including mom and wife Pita, got to award Borner one of the most important items a family in his situation needs : an accessible van. They did so thanks to a fundraising drive orchestrated by the Texas Association of Sports Officials. Game officials and sponsors from across the state raised funds to buy a discounted van from Alamo Mobility. Borner’s previous vehicle had worn out and the new one will provide him and his family needed mobility and independence.

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The Schertz-based Canales family has a special frame of reference when it comes to helping former players in Borner’s situation, since Chris has occupied a wheelchair since his own in-game mishap in 2001. They now use their own hard-won knowledge about facing such situations to ease other families’ struggles.

A big part of their message involves keeping a positive attitude and Borner provides an example to point to. In fact, the former DeSoto Eagle helps the charity out by showing off his optimistic disposition in making outreach appearances on Gridiron Heroes’ behalf when the Canales men find themselves spread too thin. You can get a feel for Borner’s outlook and his thoughts on Gridiron Heroes in the accompanying video interview.

I’ve written about Gridiron Heroes before, and I probably will again. If you work in the sports business, as I do, or if you love sports, it’s not hard to muster deep appreciation for the work the Canales family does. You can learn more about the Gridiron Heroes mission in my previous interview with Eddie Canales or at their website at gridironheroes.org.

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