OCTOBER 25, 2008 - PORTSMOUTH
|Portsmouth Notre Dame football coach Kyle McNight walks to the field for warm-ups with a tribute to Corey in the background.
In late summer of 2007 members of the Covington Bucc Boosters were out painting the football field for a home football game. It was hot, very hot, as you could see the heat beating off the all-weather track at Smith Field.
Recently graduated, Corey Patty, who has made the transition like many others from a player to someone who wants to give back in some way by helping paint the field, was having difficulty due to a pain in his lower back. It was so bad Corey took off his shirt and laid flat on his back on the steaming, hot track.
"That track was hot," said Ben Wolfe, the head of the field crew. "If you even put your hand on the track, you'd feel it. But Corey was laying flat out on the track. I told him he better get that thing checked out."
The pain became unbearable, so Corey did get it check out. The results stunned the entire community.
A cancerous tumor had developed in Corey's hip - devastating news for 19-year-old who had just enrolled at Columbus State University. The prognosis wasn't good as Corey was given barely a 60% chance of survival and even if he did survive he'd likely never walk again without the assistance of a walker.
Fast forward to November 3, 2007 and the Covington Buccaneers were hosting Porstmouth Notre Dame in the first round of the state play-offs.
Prior to the game the only connection between the two communities was the fact that former Buccaneer head coach Charlie Burgbacher had came to Covington after coaching at Notre Dame and current Buccaneer assistant coach Dave Tobias had coached as an assistant there as well.
But after reading about Corey's situation on BuccsFootball.com, the Notre Dame student body decided to hold a fundraiser for Corey in their school to raise money for his battle with cancer. In a touching ceremony prior to the game Notre Dame head football coach Kyle McNight and high school principal Kathy Milligan presented Corey a check from the donations they had received from the Notre Dame students and community.
Notre Dame made the play-offs that year in the most improbable manner. The Titans generated just enough computer points, barely getting in because another team had to cancel their last game.
It seemed destiny had brought the two communities together for that one night - communities that ultimately built a strong bond.
Once again, fast forward to nearly one year later, October 25, 2008.
All the prayers for Corey had been fulfilled as he stood at midfield during half time of Porstmouth Notre Dame's season finale against Sciotoville at Portsmouth's Spartan Stadium.
The setting was unbelievable as Spartan Stadium was the home of the first professional football game played under the lights - a game between the Portsmouth Spartans and the Brooklyn Dodgers in 1930. Spartan Stadium was once the home of the now Detriot Lions and many legendary "Hall of Fame" football players played there, including Bronco Nagurski.
In the background of the historic stadium was a large inscription painted on the hillside outside the stadium read LIVESTRONG COREY - an impressive site as you drove down the hill toward the stadium and one that stood out brightly as you looked toward the south from inside the stadium.
Corey was there to say "thank you" for the love and prayers of the Notre Dame community and to announce to the crowd he was cancer free.
Too shy to handle the microphone himself, Covington assistant football coach Glen Hollopeter did the honors for Corey.
"Corey and the Covington community would like to thank the Notre Dame students, parents and administration for the acts of kindness," Hollopeter spoke to the crowd. "Notre Dame symbolizes the word class and it starts with Kathy Milligan and Coach McNight."
He went on to give the great news of Corey's recovery to the Notre Dame crowd.
"Corey is proud to announce he is cancer free," Hollopeter continued as the crowd erupted and tears flowed from the faces of many parents and students on hand. "He was tested in September and the results came back clean. Your prayers have been answered."
The prayers of the Covington and Notre Dame communities had indeed been answered. Corey is a miracle as he not only beat cancer, he beat the odds that said he'd never walk again without the help of a walker.
Corey not only walks on his own, he barely has a limp. Unless someone were to tell you of Corey's struggles, you'd never know what he's been through.
The Bucc Boosters, Corey and a few friends had made the three-hour trip to not only say "thank you", but to give back to the Notre Dame community. They made pork dinners and sold them to those in attendance and gave the proceeds to Notre Dame schools.
All the while, Notre Dame administrators, coaches, parents, students and community members took time to individually thank Corey for, well - being Corey.
By giving in an act of kindness just one year ago, the Notre Dame community was rewarded with a miracle. They saw Corey Patty clean of cancer and walking proof that prayers do get answered.