I am continuing my brief profiling of five CNN Heroes who are working with my department (Sociology and Social Work) at my university (Fort Hays State University) to bring on-the-ground insight into our master’s degree program in social entrepreneurship. My department and I are very grateful for their assistance.
Continuing alphabetically, today I would like to share information about Mr. Eddie Canales. He and his son, Chris, have started a nonprofit organization to help high school football players who sustain serious spinal cord injuries while playing football. Their primary focus is on Texas, where an average of three such injuries occur each year.
In 2001, Mr. Canales was watching one of Chris’ football games, when Chris was injured as he was making a tackle that saved a touchdown. That tackle changed both Chris’ and his father’s lives. (1)
At the hospital, Mr. Canales and his wife were told that if his son lived, he would probably never be able to move anything below his shoulders. Chris almost died twice, but he stabilized.
Mr. Canales quit his job to care for Chris, but Chris struggled with his changed life. Depression was a part of the difficulty.
The first time Mr. Canales and Chris went to watch a football game after Chris’ injury, a player went down on the field with a spinal cord injury. Chris turned to his father and said they needed to do something to help. The eventual result was the creation of the nonprofit, Gridiron Heroes.
Gridiron Heroes is now a primary focus of Mr. Canales and Chris. Various types of assistance is provided to the athletes and families experiencing spinal cord injuries, including emotional and financial help.
One of the most powerful ways that social entrepreneurs sometimes emerge is for their personal lives to change, for them or a loved one to experience difficulty. This experience often creates deep understanding of an issue and motivation to make a difference in the lives of others.
What we view as tragedy sometimes brings something very special to us. That tragedy, which we at first perceive as threatening, sometimes brings a peace and strength never before experienced.
There is something very unusual that happens to some people when they commit themselves to a social entrepreneurship cause. They walk a path of their own making, one involving concentration and commitment. In my last post, I briefly profiled Pushpa Basnet in Nepal. She is walking the same kind of path as Mr. Canales and Chris, even though her commitment was not the result of personal tragedy.
What is it that these kinds of heroes have? Something is inside them that is different from most of the rest of us. I think I might like to explore this later.
Please go to the CNN Heroes web site noted below to read more about the important work of Mr. Canales and Chris.
Before I end, I want to mention that we don’t need to commit our entire life to social entrepreneurship in order to help change our world. I am profiling internationally recognized heroes now, but we don’t need to attain the heights these amazing people have attained. We can make our difference by taking just small steps along a small path we create.
Thank you for reading my small blog.
Best wishes. – Keith