Student athlete insurance for catastrophic coverage signed by Gov. Pat Quinn in memory of Rocky Clark

August 4, 2013 (BLUE ISLAND, Ill.)

Clark was tackled in a high school football game in 2000 and suffered injuries that left him a quadriplegic.

He died in 2012. His school had adequate coverage, but many don't. That will soon change.

Supporters of Clark celebrated a victory Sunday. Health insurance legislation inspired by the catastrophically injured student athlete is now law of the land.

Sunday, Rocky Clark won his fight to get catastrophic health insurance for high school student athletes in Illinois.

"It's beautiful," said Annette Clark, Rocky's mother. "It's a victory, to me it is."

On the Eisenhower High School football field where Rasul "rocky" Clark played, Quinn signed Senate bill 2178 into law.

"It could have been me, it could have been my parents going through the same situation and no parent should have to go through a situation to decide between helping their child who needs medical attention or quitting work," said Harris.

Co-sponsored by Harris, a former NFL linebacker and State Representative Will Davis, the new law requires public and private high schools to have collective limits of $3 million dollars or five years, whichever occurs first, of catastrophic accident insurance for all student athletes in IHSA programs.

J.J. O'Connor, who was injured while playing high school hockey, says it's a good start.

"There's no way to know if this is enough, but I think it's important to take the first step. As they say, every journey begins with the first step, so I think this is the first step," he said.

The cost of $5-10 per student could be covered by an extracurricular activity fee.

"Student safety is first and foremost and we strong feel strongly about that," said Community High School District 218 board member Randy Heuser.

Clark died last year at the age of 26, after the $5 million dollar health insurance policy held by the school district ran out.

Paralyzed from the neck down, Clark suffered an injury in a 2000 football game while playing as a running back for the Blue Island High School.

Sunday, those who knew and loved him celebrate his legacy of giving.

"He worked on it before he passed and I took it on from there. I ran with the football," Annette Clark said.

The new law also allows public elementary and middle school districts to provide accident and health insurance coverage for students injured while participating in athletic activities that are sponsored or controlled by the district or school.

Rocky's Law will take effect on January 1, 2014.

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