Illinois honors deceased quadriplegic football star by forcing schools to carry catastrophe insurance

Cameron Smith
Prep Rally

When Rasul "Rocky" Clark died in 2012, he had already exhausted $5 million of insurance paid for by the Blue Island (Ill.) School District. The teenager had been paralyzed during a horrific accident in a 2000 Blue Island (Ill.) Eisenhower High game and was left a quadriplegic.

Rocky Clark was remembered at a signing ceremony for the bill he inspired —
Rocky Clark was remembered at a signing ceremony for the bill he inspired —

For the final years of his life, Clark and his mother were forced to survive on the charity of others and large funds from medicaid. Now they've succeeded in making sure that other injured Illinois teenagers won't face a similar fate until after they've exhausted a significant insurance fund.

As reported by the Associated Press and a variety of other outlets, the state of Illinois passed legislation that will require all Illinois School Districts to offer catastrophic injury insurance for student athletes. The bill, nicknamed "Rocky's Law", will cost school districts approximately $5 per student athlete but will provide $3 million in medical benefits for any athletes who are dramatically injured in the course of high school athletics.

Illinois governor Pat Quinn told the media on hand at Eisenhower that he was thrilled to sign the bill in the hope that it would provide peace and financial security for the family of players who compete admirably for Illinois schools.

Rocky's Law was proposed by an Illinois Democrat who had a bit of football history himself. Harvey (Ill.) state senator Napoleon Harris is a former NFL player who said he was moved by Clark's struggle and the teen's inspirational quest to graduate from high school despite being quadriplegic. Clark famously achieved that goal, then lived for a number of years before passing away in 2012.

The bill itself was signed at Eisenhower High, on the field where Clark was injured. A brief ceremony honoring the teen and the legislation provided a fitting coda on a years-long crusade by Clark's family, particularly his mother Annette Clark, to introduce legislation that would further protect teens from the massive medical bills that follow traumatic injuries.

"It's something that needed," she said, according to Chicago's WBBM. "It'll never bring my son back. But he didn't die in vain."

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