The Press Newspaper
Everyone has a story to tell, but for Brian Stork, this one sounds all too familiar.
Stork, an uncle of injured Clay hockey player Kyle Cannon, is just the person to counsel Cannon on recovering from a debilitating, life-altering injury.
Cannon, 15, a freshman forward at Clay, was injured seriously on Nov. 30 when he was checked from behind and shoved into the boards. He suffered an injury to his C-5 vertebrae with 28 seconds left in the Eagles' game against Lexington (Ky.) Catholic at a tournament near Dayton.
The young athlete, who is still undergoing therapy at the University of Michigan, only has movement in his right arm.
Stork, 37, lives just two streets over from the home of Cannon and his father, Jim. Stork and Kyle Cannon have always been close.
"We live a couple blocks away," Stork said, "and I see him every weekend. He's always around."
Stork's sister is Dawn Cannon, Kyle's mother. Brian and Dawn were together when they learned of Kyle's injury.
"My sister was at my house and she got the phone call," Stork said. "That's how I found out. She took off down there to Dayton."
Stork knows his nephew as a "laid back kid" who likes to work on the computer.
"He started playing hockey when he was 3," Stork said, "and he's been playing baseball since he could play."
It isn't fair that life could deal the young Cannon such a blow, but Stork is one person who can relate to what Kyle is going through. Stork is in a wheelchair for the rest of his life.
Stork attended Central Catholic High School, where he played football, basketball and baseball. He was also a scratch golfer.
"Golf was my No. 1 thing," he said. "I had chance to get a scholarship and I screwed it up. I did the dumb teenager stuff. That's why I'm so much on my son, Cory, about school work and that stuff. You're raising your kid as best as you can. There are life lessons every day. Each day is a new day and enjoy it as it is. You'll never know when it's time for you to go.
"Everything happens for a reason," Stork continued. "It took me probably six years to finally adjust and accept (being paralyzed). I got this house and I could get in and out as I wanted to and cruise around the neighborhood. I had freedom to get in and out of the house."
Stork, who was a carpenter for 11 years, was 29 the night a single-car accident changed his life.
In the early morning hours of July 22, 2000, Stork got into his Ford Probe after a night of drinking when he lost control of his vehicle on Oak Street, near Fassett.
"I hit a tree and the car went about 20 feet up the tree," Stork said. "I wasn't wearing a seat belt. I was only three blocks from home, at two or three in the morning."
Stork suffered injuries to his C-6 and C-7 vertebrae and a broken right ankle. His right knee was torn open.
"I was in ICU for almost nine months," Stork said. "I had all kinds of problems. I couldn't eat or drink anything for six months. They put a feeding tube in my stomach. I was not happy."
Stork admitted he thought about suicide, but then he realized he had someone else to live for - Cory, who is now 10 and is being raised by his father. It took some time after the accident, but Stork finally realized he had to stop feeling sorry for himself, stop drinking and get his life back.
"The direction my son was going in, that's when I put a halt to it," Stork said. "April of 2004, that was my last drink. I've been sober since then. I want to raise my son in an environment where there's no alcohol. I'm glad nobody else got hurt but me. I was always thankful I didn't hurt anybody. It was a stupid decision.
"Now, I need to help Kyle get through this. This is happening to him when his life was just getting ready to start. I lived a really good life for 10 years, in my 20s. I didn't think I could ever take something like this. If you told me I was going to get in an accident and be paralyzed the rest of my life, I would have said I wanted to die in the accident. Now, I can't. I have my son to take care of. God kept me around for a reason - my kid."
Stork said he was "crushed" when he heard that Cannon might be paralyzed after the hockey incident.
"I would never want anybody to have to go through it like this," he said. "I'm not worried about me, I'm just worried about taking care of my son and making him a good man. He keeps me going."
Stork has talked with Cannon several times in the past few months. He tells his nephew that he must take every day for what that day brings, and try to get the most out of that day.
"He's very upbeat," Stork said. "It's not bothering him right now. He's been doing really good. Of all my (eight) nephews, the only one who would be able to go through this is Kyle. He's strong and he's going to give it everything he's got.
"Everyone has done a lot for our family. I appreciate all the fundraisers they have going for Kyle. I just want to thank everybody."