SE Texas football player overcomes Hurricane Harvey, paralysis to walk at state title game

Casey Henderson suffered neck injury in September, rehabbed at SA hospital

ARLINGTON, Texas – A Refugio High School football player who suffered a serious neck injury defied the odds earlier this week to walk at the Bobcats' state title game.

Casey Henderson broke two vertebrae in late September when he attempted to make a tackle during Refugio’s second game of the season.

He was airlifted to a San Antonio hospital and underwent emergency surgery. Doctors told Henderson’s family at the time that the teen had suffered paralysis and his chances of walking again were minimal.

The injury was another devastating blow to the family, which had just lost their home when Hurricane Harvey hit the region.

The Refugio community rallied around the Henderson family as Casey began a grueling and emotional rehabilitation process in San Antonio.

The community held fundraisers and bake sales, and offered emotional and spiritual support to help the Henderson family.

In addition, a local minister and an Austin-area contractor began efforts to build a new home for the family.


Back in San Antonio, Henderson began to have movement in his extremities in late October.

He stayed in San Antonio until right before Refugio’s first playoff game in November.

Weeks before, Henderson had been slowly moving his arms and then legs more, but he shocked the team and the community when he pushed himself up from his wheelchair and walked on the field.

According to Yahoo Sports, Henderson told his head coach that his goal was to walk at the team’s state title game.

He did it before the playoffs even started, and was with the team during its playoff run that included a regional final game at the Alamodome.

His family moved into their new home soon thereafter. Henderson still kept his original promise though, to walk at the state championship game.

The moment came Wednesday as Refugio played Mart in the Class 2A Division I state championship game at AT&T Stadium in Arlington.

He did it during Fox Sports Southwest’s television broadcast of the game.

“I’m pretty proud of myself. It’s a lot of determination and self-motivation,” Henderson told Fox Sports Southwest. "I told myself I was going to walk during the state title game.” 

Refugio lost the game against Mart, but Henderson’s strength and determination amid difficult circumstances has won over an entire region.

About the Author:

RJ Marquez has been at KSAT since 2010. He's covered a variety of stories and events across the San Antonio area, and is the lead reporter for KSAT Explains. He also covers the Spurs for on-air and digital platforms. You can see RJ regularly on KSAT Explains and Good Morning San Antonio. He also writes a weekly Spurs newsletter.