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Strong backbone: Family, friends support football player in quest to walk again

By Erika Pedroza | Published Wednesday, March 26, 2014

Twenty-one-year-old Chance Wallace is bound and determined to walk again.

Following a paralyzing snowboarding accident March 9, the football star and active outdoorsman has spent the last week-and-a-half undergoing intense physical therapy to learn again a basic motor movement.

Love and Support

LOVE AND SUPPORT – Family and friends, including his girlfriend Morgan Ashmore (left), continue to shower Chance Wallace (right) with support and encouragement following a snowboarding accident that left him paralyzed. The accident occurred March 9. This photo was taken 12 days later. Submitted photo

“He is super-positive about the whole thing,” said his mother, Richelle Wallace of Boyd. “His ultimate goal is to walk out of here, and he’s working really hard to accomplish that.”

Chance, a former Boyd resident, was snowboarding on an annual spring break ski trip to Crested Butte, Colo., with his family when he took a hard fall. The impact shattered the C6 vertebrae in his neck, requiring emergency surgery.

He was flown by helicopter ambulance to a hospital in Grand Junction, where he underwent the procedure. He stayed there five days before he was flown to Baylor Institute of Rehabilitation in Dallas, where he remains for intensive in-patient rehab.

“He does physical therapy all day Monday through Friday and then some on weekends,” his mother said. “He is doing very good.”

In just a week of therapy, he’s already made significant progress.

“He has a lot more ability to be mobile,” Richelle said. “He’s a little stronger, a little more active each day.”

Despite the progress he’s made to this point, the road to recovery is a long one. His projected discharge date is May 7.

“That’s tentative,” Richelle said. “It could be shorter. He is working really hard. Even the doctors and therapists are wowed by his progress.”

Perhaps even more remarkable are his optimism, unwavering determination and relentless work ethic.

“He doesn’t know how to be anything but that,” Richelle said. “He adamantly believes he will walk again.”

Those traits were honed on the football field, when Chance played safety at Tarleton State University.

“That work ethic of being a football player is carrying him through,” Richelle said.

Also fueling his recovery is the desire to be outdoors and playing sports – the way he enjoyed spending his free time before the accident.

According to his mother, Chance loved to wakeboard and spend his summer at the lake. He played intramural softball during the football offseason. He elso enjoyed archery and bowhunting. Even his major, landscape architecture design, took him outdoors.

“He wants to own a landscaping company,” Richelle said.

Chance attended Boyd schools through the eighth grade before his family moved to Canton, where he graduated high school.

He went to Tarleton State University, where he is a junior, and his family has since moved to Boyd, where his younger brother, Seth, is a junior. His older brother, Jake, is a senior at the University of Texas at Arlington.

Chance’s mom, Richelle, and dad Tommy have not left his side since the accident.

“His dad goes back and forth to work from the hospital, but we spend every night with him,” Richelle said.

Family and friends from each of the communities the family extends into have shown an outpouring of love and encouragement. Many loved ones have visited, and there has been a steady stream of phone calls, text messages, emails, gifts and prayers.

“The support we’ve been given has been unbelievable – from the college, from professors, from the football coach, from where he went to high school, from the people in Wise County,” Richelle said. “I can’t even explain the number of people who have come to see him. It’s a party in his room every night.

“We could never thank anybody enough for all the support and love our family has been shown.”

And although that network of support has eased the difficult circumstances, the family finds the most encouragement in Chance himself.

“I’m doing good,” Richelle said. “I mean, how could I not be? He has an awesome, beautiful smile to go with his wonderful attitude, which spreads to everyone around him. He makes everybody feel better and inspires everyone around him.

“He is determined to walk out of here,” she continued. “As highly motivated as he is, once he says he will do something, he does it.

“He’ll do it. He’ll walk out of here.”

HOW YOU CAN HELP

Two accounts benefiting the Wallace family have been set up:

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