Special Send-off for College Football Player Paralyzed In Freak Accident

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OVERLAND PARK, Kan. - An Ottawa University football player gets a special send-off Monday from dozens of his family and friends, and some former Chief's football players.

Matt Bollig is the center of attention at Overland Park Regional Medical Center. The 20-year-old's family and friends shower him with love.  They say, he's a star, especially on the gridiron with the Ottawa University football team.  That is, until last Wednesday.

"I just know that I broke my back, invertebrates were out-of-place and instead of them being stacked on top of each other they were almost, I would say, side by side," he said.

The freak weightlifting accident leaves Bollig paralyzed at a level considered paraplegic.  Doctors told he and his family that his chances of walking again are slim.  His mother Valerie Bollig, said there is nothing wrong with Bollig's back now that would prevent him being able to walk again, but it's whether the spinal cord will heal itself.  She said they are praying.

"It's been very surreal, actually. You know, I've watched him struggle a little bit with certain things. He's just Matt, I mean, I don't know how else to say it," Bollig's mother said. "Matt is one that as long as he is breathing, it doesn't matter," she said.

His family and friends agree.  The group crammed into a hospital conference room to see him off to a special hospital out-of-state for rehabilitation.

"It's pretty amazing to see that I have this many people out there that care about  me," Bollig said.

It's not just anyone who showed up, but former Chief's players Bollig has watched growing up.  Bill Maas, Anthony Davis and Ken Kremer, loaded Bollig up with all the Chief's gear he could ask for.

Kremer said Bollig just has the kind of attitude that scores in any situation.

"It's not really the adversity itself, it's how you respond to that adversity, and I think he, this young man, is ready to respond and good things are going to happen," Kremer said.

"There's nothing in this world that I didn't dream about that I need my legs for.  There's a lot of things out there that I still dream about every night, everyday, that I can still strive for and still do," Bollig said.

For now, he said he is striving to be back home on Aug. 25.  It's just in time, Bollig said, to watch Ottawa beat Baker University in the first game of the season.

Bollig, and his mom and dad, are heading to Craig Hospital Tuesday morning in Englewood, CO.   The hospital is outside of Denver.  The hospital's website said it specializes in rehabilitation for spinal cord and brain injury.

Valerie Bollig said she has been told rehabilitation could take anywhere from four weeks, to four months.

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email: gia.vang@wdaftv4.com

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