Family members, former teammates, Gridiron Heroes staff and San Marcos Academy (SMA) administrators honored 2002 SMA graduate Chris Canales. Photo by Don Anders.
At a halftime presentation last Friday night, San Marcos Academy (SMA) officially retired the number 9 football jersey worn by 2002 graduate Chris Canales in honor of his work with the Gridiron Heroes Spinal Cord Injury Foundation (GHSCIF).
While Canales’ work is reason enough to retire his number, there’s a lot more to the story.
In 2001, while senior all-district defensive back and all-state punter Canales was playing in a football game for SMA, he got tagged in a life-changing tackle. He suffered a spinal cord injury from the blow and was left paralyzed.
Canales and his father, 1975 SMA alumnus Eddie Canales, founded the GHSCIF with then SMA football coach Mike Kipp.
The non-profit foundation provides immediate and long-term resources and support to students sustaining catastrophic spinal cord injuries associated with high school football. During the past seven years, GHSCIF has assisted at least 15 players whose lives were transformed by spinal cord injuries.
Chris and Eddie Canales have helped the players and their families by providing financial, physical and emotional support.
“Chris and his whole family are very special to San Marcos Academy for the work that they do with the Gridiron Heroes organization and the contributions that two generations of the Canales family have made to the Academy,” said SMA President John Garrison.”We are very pleased to honor Chris by retiring his number and by raising funds to support the work of the Spinal Cord Injury Foundation.”
The SMA Bears wore all-green Wilson jerseys with a special A+ Federal Credit Union/Gridiron Heroes pattern printed on the front and SMA on the chest during their game that night against San Antonio Christian.
The evening also featured a crowd of Canales well-wishers, including former teammates from SMA and actor Ernest James, who plays Calvin Brown on the NBC hit television series “Friday Night Lights.”
Canales’ work and story has received national attention, the upshot of which is a documentary in production about his life and his efforts to help others. For more information on the documentary, visit www.gridironheroes.org.
The limited edition jerseys from the Canales events are being sold for $75, with the funds going to GHSIF. Those interested in purchasing one may contact SMA Special Assistant for Athletic Development Ron Oswalt at firstname.lastname@example.org.