Paralyzed ex-football player makes plea for help

January 11, 2011 (CHICAGO)

From the time he was injured till August of last year, Rocky Clark was covered by his school district's policy against catastrophic injuries of their students. That policy maxed out at $5 million, and since that time Clark's mother, who is his primary caregiver, has piled up over $100,000 in medical bills. And unless he is able to get coverage some other way, they will just keep coming.

"Right now, it's a struggle, for me and my mom, and what we're going through really. I really need help," Clark told ABC7 Chicago.

Twenty-six-year-old Rocky Clark has been without supplemental health insurance for over four months now. And while he is covered by Medicaid, it's not enough. He no longer gets the round-the-clock nursing he used to, making his mother, Annette Clark, his only caregiver. She has to sleep in a chair beside Rocky's bed every night in case he gets sick.

"I'm in and out of the hospital with pneumonia two or three times a year. I have medicines to breathe that cost $400 to $1,000 dollars. Medicaid doesn't cover everything," said Clark.

Ten years ago, Clark was a football player at Eisenhower High School. He still lives surrounded by the memories of those days. On Tuesday, he was joined by another former high school player who was also was paralyzed on the football field. Kenneth Jennings was injured playing for Simeon High School in 1988.

"I just recently got insured four or five years ago, because I found a loophole that because I was injured before I was 18 and my father was in the service, I got covered. Otherwise I'd still be uninsured," said Jennings.

Meanwhile, as far as helping Clark goes, Community High School District 218 is still trying. They can no longer insure him, but they say they're in touch with the state to figure out what more can be done.

"He's one of our kids. In our community, we do feel a responsibility that he receive every possible benefit," said Supt. John Byrne, District 218.

"My life is in God's hands. Just because I don't have insurance I'm not going to stop living. I can't stop living," Clark said.

Supt. Byrne said they have a consultant assigned who is in contact with the governor's office. They are conducting an investigation to make sure that Clark is receiving everything he is entitled to under the law.

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