Kent Waldrep Story
On October 26, 1974, during a hard fought Alabama-Texas Christian University football game, TCU star running back Kent Waldrep ran into a wall of Alabama tacklers and landed head-first on the artificial turf. His life as a star athlete was finished. Unable to move, Waldrep was taken off the field on a stretcher with an injury to his spinal cord. Attempts at rehabilitation were tried and found useless, and the medical doctors regretfully informed Kent that his paralysis was permanent. Quadriplegia and a wheelchair would now dominate his life. But Kent is a fighter and was not willing to accept the verdict.
The support of family, of Coach Bear Bryant, Governor George Wallace, and many other friends and supporters, fortified the Waldreps. Inspite of skepticism and lack of support from the medical establishment, Kent decided to seek help at the Palenov Institute in the Soviet Union, where intensive research was starting to show signs of help for spinal cord injuries.
Kent's Russian trip resulted in a great uproar from the medical community. Fueled by his appearance on the "Today Show" and in Time, Look, and People magazines, an enormous groundswell of public interest arose. Constantly asking why paralysis was the one condition labeled incurable by medical experts, Kent Waldrep raised the awareness of the nation.
At age 25, Kent formed what became the American Paralysis Foundation. Ronald Reagan appointed him to the National Council on Disability. Kent as a vice-chair helped draft the Americans with Disabilities Act.
Recent progress in spinal cord injury has proven out his belief in the possibility of healing, and athletes like Dennis Byrd are able to walk again today partly through Waldrep's efforts. The fight goes on for a final cure, and Kent Waldrep has dedicated his life to help bring this about