by Jeffrey Farek
On September 26, 2015, like many other Bulldog fans and students, I left at halftime. I only heard about it later. Georgia was up 20-6 to start the second half. A player got hurt on the opening kickoff. They said he was hurt. They said it was really bad.
Now virtually everyone on campus knows the story. Georgia Southern walk-on Devon Gales suffered a serious spinal injury and was paralyzed after a collision with Georgia kicker Marshall Morgan. The University of Georgia helped assist Devon by allowing him to sell merchandise with the Georgia “G” logo in order to help raise money. The Macon-based charity Triumph Over Tragedy set a goal to raise $500,000 in an attempt to build Gales and his family a new home. They raised $35,000 in their first week.
A strong connection between Gales and the university formed. He was honored at basketball and football games. He established relationships with Georgia players. He was at Marshall Morgan’s wedding. He seemed to be getting all the support he needed.
So just like that the stories went away. The chatter died down and so did the awareness.
On May 18, 2016 a video was shared online of Gales moving his legs. More progress towards his dream to walk again. He said he was chosen as part of God’s plan. He continued to remain positive.
That summer, another setback. Floods in Baton Rouge damaged the Gales’ home. Triumph Over Tragedy continued to fundraise and build Gales a new home.
In late January of this year Triumph Over Tragedy cut ties with the Gales family due to financial problems and unfulfilled guarantees. The $47,000 they raised fell far short of the $500,000 goal they set out to reach.
Now, the University of Georgia announced that it has started a campaign to raise the $500,000 necessary to build Gales a new handicapped-accessible home. The announcement was made Saturday. Gales was awarded the NCAA Sportsmanship Award from the university at halftime of the LSU-Georgia basketball game. The fundraising drive will be promoted at the G-Day football game this spring. Former Bulldog tight end Benjamin Watson donated $10,000 to Gales and posted on Twitter to insist others to help as well.
Gales continues to overcome adversity until he no longer faces it. This fundraiser is his and the university’s latest effort in realizing it. Gales has continued to make progress in rehabilitation. He has gained some mobility in his knee and hip.
According to OnlineAthens, donations can be made “by texting ‘Devon’ to 706-204-1707 for the campaign and to use the hashtag #DawgHouseForDevonDriv3ForFiv3 to support the drive. The slogan signifies both the $5 donation and $500,000 goal; the 3s rather than Es signify his playing number 33 at Southern.”