By JOHN SHINN
NORMAN — It was just over four years ago that Corey Wilson’s life was dramatically altered. On Feb. 27, 2009, he was traveling from Norman back to his native Carrollton, Texas, for a quick trip before the start of spring practice when the SUV he was driving collided with a pickup truck and started to roll.
Wilson was thrown 45 feet from the wreckage and left without the use of his legs and a promising football career that was suddenly over.
The new focus he’s found in life was evident Friday night at the Norman North High School Gym. It was the site of the first annual Stoops’ All-Stars Ball For A Cause. The charity basketball game featured two dozen former Oklahoma football players and helped raise money for the Christopher and Dana Reeve Foundation.
It’s an event Wilson has been planning for 10 months and one he’ll start arranging again today.
“Growing up, I always wanted to be Superman, so I always knew about Christopher Reeve,” Wilson said. “Once I got into the accident, I’ve wanted to work with them.”
The Reeve Foundation was created to help “cure spinal cord injury by funding innovative research, and improving the quality of life for people living with paralysis through grants, information and advocacy.”
Wilson wants to help any way he can. Luckily, he has former teammates that will do anything for him.
The second weekend in April is when most former OU football players make a trek to Norman. It’s the weekend of the annual spring football game. For those playing in the NFL, it’s the only time of year when professional football doesn’t get in the way.
Many were there Friday night — including former OU offensive lineman Trent Williams, running back Dominique Whaley, tight end Jermaine Gresham, linebacker Keenan Clayton and defensive end Jeremy Beal.
“It’s kinda hard to get everybody in a certain place at once,” Whaley said. “When he asked me to do it, I was like everyone else, I cleared the schedule to make sure I was here for the cause.”
The cause is one of things that keeps Wilson going. He graduated from OU last May. Since then his goal has been to work with nonprofit foundations. He’s wanted to start one with his brother, former OU receiver Travis Wilson, since he got out of school. Events like Friday’s are part of that process.
Wilson freely admits there have been tough days since he was paralyzed a little over four years ago, but charity work provides that uplifting experience everyone seeks.
“For the situation he’s been in, Corey has always had an unbelievable attitude,” Beal said. “He’s had some down moments, but every time I’ve seen him he’s smiling and he can’t wait to help other people out and that’s what tonight is all about.”
The goal is for the basketball game to become an annual event. Judging by the turnout, that could very well happen. Wilson has plenty of supporters.
“He’s my inspiration. He’s my younger big brother,” Travis Wilson said. “A couple years ago, I don’t know if I would have said I look up to him or admire him for many things. The man he’s become has all my respect. How he’s handled all this adversity is the true definition of what he is and what he represents. It’s an honor to be his brother.”
Back in 2009, Wilson vowed to one day walk on Owen Field again. He continues to tirelessly rehab his body so that one day if a cure is found for paralysis, he will be able to do.
Gatherings like Friday’s help. Wilson’s sprit does as well.
“I know the answer is coming, so I’m just keeping my body right and staying fit, keeping my balance and taking steps when I can and working for the day I know will be here,” he said.