CLARKSVILLE — When 18 guys, including eight current and alumni Clinton-Massie football players, set out for a whitewater rafting trip in West Virginia in mid-July, it was expected to be a trip that would further strengthen the bonds between fathers, sons and great friends. It was an opportunity to spend a few carefree days of summer together as “brothers of the gridiron” before college-bound Falcons flew the nest to playing fields away from home and others began their two-a-day practices at Frank Irelan Field.
In addition to navigating the rapids, the group also enjoyed trap shooting and riding the mountain trails on ATV’s.
On the last night of the trip, six of the boys decided to load up in the Polaris Ranger and hit the trails one last time. With recent Clinton-Massie graduate Chayse Wolf at the wheel, they maneuvered through the mountainous terrain as they did several times throughout the weekend.
This time, however, one of the sharp curves along the road snuck up on them. Realizing that he couldn’t make the turn, Chayse tried to bring the vehicle to a stop, but it was too late. Two wheels had already gone off the road causing the Ranger to flip and roll down the mountain.
Chayse was thrown from the vehicle, and the 1,000-plus pound Ranger rolled over top of him. While Chayse’s friends escaped the accident with cuts and bruises, they quickly determined that Chayse’s injuries were serious, so they held him in a stable position and called 911.
With Chayse’s father Travis and brothers Bayle and JT by his side, Chayse was airlifted by helicopter to Ruby Memorial Hospital in Morgantown, West Virginia. Chayse had suffered a shattered 12th thoracic vertebra, a fractured 1st lumbar vertebra, and an injured spinal cord that left him paralyzed from the waist down.
Chayse underwent two surgeries to repair his vertebrae and realign his spinal column with metal rods, and while his back was structurally repaired, the paralysis remained.
Instead of heading off to Lindsey Wilson College where he had earned a football scholarship, Chayse spent a week in ICU before being transported to the Shepard Center in Atlanta for a month of inpatient acute spinal cord rehabilitation. After being discharged from the acute inpatient rehab, Chayse returned home for a brief stint prior to returning to the Shepherd Center for the outpatient rehab program.
As news of Chayse’s injury spread, the support for Chayse and his family immediately began pouring in. Several family members, friends and coaches drove hundreds of miles to give Chayse their love and support in person. From afar, others showered him with gifts, food, cards, letters and most importantly prayers.
Friends and family jumped in eager to assist with home modifications needed to accommodate Chayse’s current state. Without solicitation, fundraisers were and continue to be orchestrated by family, friends, co-workers, community members and local businesses in hopes of easing the financial burden this incident has caused.
Chayse and the Wolf family were overwhelmed and humbled by the multitude of people, not only in the Clinton County community but the Xenia and surrounding communities as well who have come forward to offer support in the midst of this tragedy.
“It’s hard to put into words, said Chayse’s mother EmmaLee Wolf. “It’s more than you could ever hope to experience in your life.”
“We can’t even begin to express the gratitude we feel towards all those who are supporting us through this. We are truly blessed to be part of such a caring community,” said Travis Wolf.
Chayse is currently in an intense outpatient therapy program at the Shepherd Center in Atlanta. The muscles that began firing in his upper legs are getting stronger each day. Chayse is applying the same work ethic and determination he displayed for years on the football field to his battle to recover from this devastating injury.
“His spirits are up, and I am amazed every day with how he handles himself. He is a fighter,” said Chayse’s mother.
Chayse is scheduled to be discharged from the Shepherd Center rehabilitation program sometime in Mid-October. At that time, he will bring the fight for recovery back home where he will seek out a local spinal cord rehabilitation facility.
Looking back over the last several weeks, Travis said, “I believe God gives his toughest battles to his strongest soldiers. Chayse is a very strong kid; there isn’t an ounce of “quit” in him. He has embraced the fact that God’s plan for his life is far different than what he had envisioned and intends to approach this path with the same intensity and determination he has always demonstrated.”
Although Chayse’s football career ended prematurely, he plans to continue his pursuit a college degree in the near future.
Information for this article was provided by Diana Miller, who coordinates communications for several area schools, and written in conjunction with Travis Wolf.