Kalepo Naotala, a freshman on the University of Hawai’i Football team, suffered a serious spinal cord injury on July 1, 2017 while diving with friends near Waikiki in Honolulu. He was rescued from the water, and the staff at Queen's Medical Center saved his life. He was later transferred to Craig Hospital in Englewood, Colorado for further rehabilitation.
STATEMENT FROM THE NAOTALA FAMILY:
“Words can't express how blessed we’ve been in the midst of this trying time for our family. The outpouring of God’s love and grace through prayers, love and support from Virginia to Hawaii and now Colorado has been tremendous! We'd like to thank the College Football Assistance Fund (CFAF) for their support and generous donation in allowing our family to focus on Kalepo and his recovery & rehabilitation. We are grateful and appreciative that such an organization exists and is able to help us out during this critical time in our son’s life.”
Tony & Shantell Naotala
The CFAF was inspired by Rutgers University football player Eric LeGrand, who experienced a life-changing spinal cord injury during a game against Army in 2010. The first grant was made to help Eric modify his home for his new condition.
Former University of Nebraska football player Budge Porter suffered a catastrophic neck dislocation during a Cornhusker practice in 1976, which led to paralysis. A CFAF grant helped Budge build his first fully wheelchair-accessible home.
Donnie Salum, a former University of Arizona linebacker, was recently diagnosed with an extremely rare form of bone tumor at the base of his skull, touching his brain stem. A CFAF grant was made to assist with medical costs.
Sterling Thomas, a defensive back at Lindenwood University in Missouri, suffered a paralyzing spinal cord injury during a 2012 game versus Missouri Southern. The CFAF provided a grant to Thomas to help cover the cost of home modifications.
Tulane University's Devon Walker collapsed after an accidental helmet-to-helmet hit during a 2012 game against Tulsa. Devon suffered a spine fracture, dramatically altering his life, and that of his family. The CFAF provided a grant to Walker to help ease the cost of family travel.
Jeremy Ioane is a football student-athlete at Boise State University. Jeremy is battling an auto-immune disease which is affecting his kidneys and will need a kidney transplant. The CFAF provided a grant to a fund that was created to help Jeremy and his family pay for the medical expenses and bills that won't be covered by insurance.
On September 5, 2015, Williams shattered sections of his vertebrae while making a tackle. He endured nine hours of surgery, receiving a spinal fusion, inserted rods and a prosthetic intervertebral disc. Tyrell, a junior linebacker for the Georgetown Hoyas, was transferred to the Shepherd Center in Atlanta, one of the nation's top rehabilitation hospitals for spinal cord and brain injury. The CFAF grant helped his parents & brother be with him during this time, first in Pennsylvania and now in Atlanta.
Devon Gales, a wide receiver from Southern University, suffered a severe spinal injury on September 26, 2015 during a game in Athens, GA. He underwent successful surgery the following day and was then transferred to the Shepherd Center in Atlanta. The CFAF grant helped the Gales family cover travel and loss-of-income expenses immediately following the injury.