One on One: Eddie Canales Helps Catastrophically Injured Athletes
The first anniversary of the November 2001 night that saw his teenage son break his neck while making a touchdown-saving tackle had just passed, and Eddie Canales could see that Chris, the all-state punter who had entertained multiple college scholarship offers, was shutting down — the realization that he would never get out of a wheelchair sinking in. Eddie, his son's round-the-clock caregiver, took the two hours needed to get Chris ready and drove him to a high school football championship game at the Alamo Dome in San Antonio, where the two witnessed another athlete suffer a paralyzing spinal cord injury. "We need to help him," Chris told his father in the stands, and Gridiron Heroes, a nonprofit organization that provides moral and financial support to dozens of catastrophically injured high school athletes and their families in Texas and beyond, was born. Without corporate sponsorship (yet), Gridiron Heroes has raised enough funds to outfit homes with wheelchair ramps, purchase wheelchair-accessible vehicles for four families (a fifth will receive one this month) and cover the funeral expenses of two members who died. Paul Steinbach asked the elder Canales, who was named a CNN Hero earlier this year, about his own family's healing through philanthropy.
Q: What went through your mind when Chris proposed helping that first family?
Q: How did you get the word out at first?
Q: Did they think you were anti-football?
Q: Is there any guidance you can offer coaches?
Q: You inspired SMU coach June Jones to start a similar organization for injured college players. How did that make you feel?
Facility of the Week
Ithaca College Athletics and Events Center