Champions Of Character: Drake Damesworth

Greg Hammond

Drake Damesworth has a major concern.

“Maybe my geometry grade could be a little higher,” said Drake.

School work was the least of his worries 12 months ago. A neck injury he sustained in a varsity football game last September changed his life.

"I didn't think I’d be walking because the doctor told me I’d probably never be able to walk again," said Drake.

The injury left Drake paralyzed for more than a month.

"At LeBonheur we didn't have hope of him ever walking again," said Andrea Damesworth, Drakes mother.

"After 11 days, we went to Atlanta. At Shepherd Center they said he will be walking around in a month. I told them I’d believe it when I see it."

The Shepherd Center specializes in spinal cord injuries. The staff in Atlanta challenged Drake.

"The doctor said if I want to be able to move. I need to work at it," Drake said.

And that's exactly what Drake did.

"Everyday we saw progress," said Andrea.

"When I first started walking I took like seven steps then passed out. The next time I tried for 20 and I reached 33. It’s mentally tough. You have to have the mindset you’re going to get through it and make yourself do the work,” Drake said.

Drake was able to return home to Gleason after 3 months for therapy in Atlanta. His progress continues today at Baptist Memorial Hospital in Huntingdon.

"He's very motivated. Every time he comes in he signs his football number by his name,” said head trainer Julie Bartholomew. “He’s committed to what he's doing.”

Drake has returned to the Gleason sideline in a supportive role.

“I help out with the lineman if they don't understand their blocks. I help the lower classmen who don't understand how much weight they need to lift," said Drake.

"Now he's talking about being a coach and helping younger kids. He loves them and they love him,” said Andrea.

"He's a hero to them."

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