By Emily Fedor
It was Valentine’s Day 1974.
Ross Cordaro was at football practice, hard at work with the rest of the Bucks. To improve their strength, players would lift weights, and to improve agility, they would occasionally do some wrestling.
“I was wrestling with one of my best friends,” Ross said. “I was just flipped the wrong way and hit the mat with my neck first.
“Everybody was around the mat, all my teammates. I remember everything just slowly going numb from the neck down… I’m looking around trying to be strong, but I was holding back tears because I couldn’t move.”
Ross had fractured his C5-C6 spinal segment. Just 14 years old at the time, he spent months at the old Mercy Hospital before becoming the youngest patient at Allied Services.
Not willing to call it quits, Ross set a goal: to be up and walking again by the annual Thanksgiving Day game against West Side.
Lo and behold when November came around, Ross was indeed taking steps on his own. And with the help of two quad canes, he walked into a pep rally at the high school the day before that big game.
“The place went crazy. There’s pictures of everybody crying. It was surreal.”
44 years and nine spinal surgeries later, quite a bit has changed. Ross has lost movement in both of his legs and as a result, now rolls through life in a wheelchair.
But with the support of his loved ones, he says he’s managed to stay positive.
“There’s always someone worse [off]. I feel very fortunate.”
Wanting to share his story with others, Ross and his cousin Liz Naro have teamed up to create a documentary called “Don’t Quit: The Ross Cordaro Story.”
“She said she was always interested in writing,” said Ross. “And I said, jeez. Everyone always told me I should write a book.”
Filming is now nearly complete. The hope is to have an edited, ready-to-watch product by this coming November.
To help support the project, a “Shindig” — yes, just like the ones held back in the day — will be held from 6 to 8 p.m. on Saturday October 13 at La Buona Vita on Reilly Street in Dunmore.
All proceeds will help cover production costs and ultimately, help share Ross’s inspiring story.
“All I want is that hopefully I can be an inspiration to someone who may be going through any type of injury, or even personal problems. No matter what the situation, the obstacle or tragedy, that you choose the right way to carry on,” said Ross.
“The title is ‘Don’t Quit,’ and that’s what I try to do every day.”
For more information on “Don’t Quit: The Ross Cordaro Story” or to make a donation, visit www.gofundme.com/don039t-quitross-cordaro-documentar.