A group of local sports legends stepped up Friday to help a former Eisenhower High School standout who became paralyzed 11 years ago and has since battled sickness and a lapse in his insurance.
Members of the Chicagoland Sports Hall of Fame paid a visit to Rocky Clark and his mother and presented him with a check for $25,000.
"This year the Chicagoland Sports Hall of Fame had a good year and we had a little extra money in the till and we're all volunteer and we just give to charity," said the group's president, Charles Carey. "I asked the board to adopt this as part of the charity."
For Clark, who keeps a game ball from the 1985 Super Bowl at the foot of his bed, the gift and the visit from former tight end Emery Moorehead were almost too much to comprehend.
"It was a privilege to meet him," said a smiling Clark. "He was before my time."
Also visiting Clark before Christmas was the Superintendent of District 218 who has worked to keep the former athlete's cause in the public eye after his school-sponsored insurance expired.
"It gives you faith, especially this time of the year. It's supposed to be about giving, so other people are trying to help him. It's what we preach. Be happy for what you have and give some of that to others," said Dr. John Byrne.
Clark and his mother know the $25,000 won't go very far, but at this time of year, after his insurance lapsed, it really helps, they said. To help the family in the months to come, Deacon Don Grossnickle is raising money to pay off the mortgage on their Robbins home.
"Rocky is a fighter, and he's a very proud fighter and he's one of the founders of the Gridiron Alliance and he's really looking to help other athletes learn from this experience," said Grossnickle. He said he and others have been inspired with how Clark has handled his setbacks.
Clark said his perseverance is just in his nature.
"I really don't know what to say. I'm just being me," he said.