Mount Shasta, Calif. -Driving around Mount Shasta this week, you may notice a new feature on many cars. Stickers and magnets reading “The Corbster” and “Corben Brooks #54 – Stay Strong” have been plastered everywhere, a reminder to the community of one young man’s struggle to get back on his feet.
Friday’s Booster Club Tailgate Party raised over $40,000 for Corben Brooks, the 17 year-old Mount Shasta High School senior who was seriously injured during a football scrimmage in August.
“It was the biggest event I’ve ever seen in Mount Shasta other than the Fourth of July celebration,” said Keith Cool, a long time resident who provided dinner for the fundraiser. Cool, owner of Mount Shasta Supermarket, said 1,186 dinner tickets were sold with all proceeds going to the Corben Brooks fund.
In addition to the dinner, there was a silent auction and a live auction. Items such as the popular bumper stickers, magnets, “live strong” bracelets, and t-shirts were also sold, as well as raffle tickets for a wide range of prizes donated from businesses throughout the community.
“Corben has a C-5 spinal cord injury, which classifies him as a quadriplegic,” said Ronna Brooks, Corben’s mother. Currently Corben has no fine Motor skills, but he is undergoing therapy in order to strengthen those skills that he still possesses. “He is able to move his biceps and triceps, but not his wrists,” Ronna said. “Right now, Corben has no sensation from the chest down.”
According to doctors, 19 out of 20 patients with a C-5 spinal cord injury need to have a tracheotomy tube assisting them with breathing. Not so with Corben. “Corben is that one out of twenty that has a little better situation,” Ronna said. “The fact that he is athletic, young, a non-smoker and a non-drinker” is probably the reason that he’s doing better than most in the same situation, she said.
The outpouring of community support has “overwhelmed” Corben, according to his mom. “The magnitude of the situation and the amount of people praying for him is amazing,” Ronna said.
The fundraising tailgate party, which was held this year at the MSHS football field, began at 6 p.m. Community member Karen Backes said that when she arrived “the football field was packed. I’d never seen it so full.” People waited in three long dinner lines to enjoy Cool’s tri-tip steak, beans, salad, and dinner rolls.
Announcers for the event, Kim Baldi and Bill Reed, kept the crowd informed of what was happening, “continually feeding us information about the different organizations and individuals who had donated personally or had collected donations at their places of business,” said Backes.
“So many people came together for this event,” Keith Cool said. “It was absolutely a community effort.”
Cool said he was compelled to hold a donation dinner for Corben Brooks even before the Boosters Club decided to change gears with their annual tailgate party and make it a benefit for Corben.
“Corben is a role model,” Cool said. “I want my kids to grow up to be like him. He’s a great kid.”
The event raised a total of $43,000 for Corben. When all is said and done, the CHP estimates that the fundraiser will have made closer to $50,000 to put into Corben’s fund, which is to be used for medical expenses, Rehabilitation therapy, and other necessary expenses that Corben’s injury will incur in the future.
“That speaks volumes about how people feel about the family,” said Kim Baldi, who helped the Boosters Club put on the event. “It was a full community effort. We had people there from Mount Shasta, Weed, Dunsmuir, Yreka, and Redding. It was incredible… People were coming up and buying raffle tickets and dinners; they were handing us checks and cash left and right.”
“All those fifteen dollar dinner tickets really added up,” said Cool. “Any small donation makes a difference. There were people at the party who really couldn’t afford to donate much, but they bought a dinner ticket anyway.”
“In a community where finances are sometimes an issue, and donating can be a hardship, it’s amazing that everyone has been so generous,” Ronna said. “I can’t even say in words how grateful we are.”
Near the end of the evening, a helicopter flew over the football field, filming the event from above. Attending community members waved, and the MSHS cheerleaders flashed posters they had made encouraging Corben to “stay strong.”
Corben is currently at the Santa Clara Valley Medical Center in San Jose, Calif., in the Rehabilitation Spinal Cord Therapy Unit. He’s in good spirits, his mother says. “If you just saw him sitting in bed, you’d never know what has happened.”
Corben’s parents, Kevin and Ronna, have been been busy since their son’s injury, driving back and forth between San Jose and Mount Shasta, where they own Brooks Auto Repair. Corben has two brothers: 15 year-old Bryson and 10 year-old Mason, and a sister, 8 year-old Cami.
“There is hope,” Ronna said. “There is faith, there is prayer. So many people have been praying for Corben, and it’s this energy that is going to help Corben along his way.”
By Skye Kinkade
Mount Shasta Area Newspapers