Saturday, October 09, 1999

Football team visits, plays with Drake patients

The Cincinnati Enquirer

        Drake Center patients crushed the Thomas More College Saints in one of the hottest games this year. Hot potato, that is.

        Twenty-six football players from Thomas More College in Crestview Hills, Ky., volunteered Friday afternoon at the Drake Center in Hart well, a long-term health rehabilitation center.

        The team wore its blue jerseys in honor of classmate and assistant football coach Adam Collinsworth, who spent two months at the center last year.

        Mr. Collinsworth, 20, came to the center last September after being paralyzed from the neck down in a diving accident.

        “I'm glad the team had the chance to give the patients a sense of optimism,” said Mr. Collinsworth of Taylor Mill, Ky. He was unable to attend because of aphysical therapy session. “I know when I was there, having a visitor always gave me a boost.”

        The players voiced similar sentiments.

        “It's a great opportunity to do something for the center that helped Coach Collinsworth,” said linebacker Rick Honaker, 18, of Wilder, Ky.

        Mr. Honaker and teammate Jason Friedhoff of Newport started working at 9 a.m., transporting patients and helping with physical therapy.

        “It gave me a better view of what Adam went through,” said Mr. Friedhoff, 20, a defensive tackle.

        The players spent the afternoon cleaning vans, and transporting and playing games with patients.

        “It's nice to see young people come out and want to help,” said patient Elizabeth Shockley, 50, of Over-the-Rhine. “They're bringing a lot of smiles to patients' faces.”

        Physical therapist Brandi Lacer, who cared for Mr. Collinsworth at the center, said the objective was to fully involve the players so they understood the restrictions of having a disability.

        One way Miss Lacer facilitated that was by making players sit in wheelchairs like the patients during the hot potato game.

        “I want them to see how it feels to not be as mobile as they're used to,” said Miss Lacer of Mount Healthy. “But (by being here) I also want them to see that we can help patients recover.”

        Like Mr. Collinsworth, who continues his therapy at the HealthSouth Northern Kentucky Rehabilitation Center in Edgewood, Ky.

        He has regained movement in his biceps, which allows him to control his wheelchair using his hands instead of his chin.

        A junior at Thomas More, Mr. Collinsworth hasn't let this obstacle slow him down.

        He's at the football field early in the morning and into the late afternoon helping Dean Paul coach the football team, which is 2-3 this year.

        He's especially grueling in the weight room, where he whips the players into shape by pushing them to their limits.

        “(Adam's) tough on us,” Mr. Friedhoff said. “He's a fighter that inspires us to be our best.”

        Said Coach Paul: “Good people inspire themselves, but great people inspire others. And that's what Adam does.”


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