New Orleans - The New Orleans Bowl has selected San Jose State University's Neil Parry to receive the inaugural New Orleans Bowl Inspirational Award on Monday, Dec. 16 in New Orleans at the annual Players Luncheon.
"We are excited about the addition of the players luncheon to the New Orleans Bowl activities for the 2002 year," said Dr. Myron Moorehead, chairman of the New Orleans Bowl Committee. "The luncheon gives the New Orleans Bowl Committee the opportunity to recognize special student-athletes who have excelled in the face of adversity and excelled in the classroom as well as on the field of play.
The presentation of the New Orleans Bowl Inspirational Award will definitely be the focal point of the luncheon.
We are very lucky to have such an outstanding recipient, Neil Parry, for the inaugural presentation of the award."
The New Orleans Bowl Committee established the Inspirational Award in 2002. The award will be presented annually to a student-athlete from an NCAA Division I-A institution who has achieved academic and intercollegiate athletic success and demonstrated superior perseverance.
Nominees must have overcome physical and/or emotional hardship directly or indirectly through immediate family members. Nominees must also show exceptional leadership through the hardship on their team, on campus and within the conference.
The recipient is selected by a vote of the New Orleans Bowl Awards Committee.
"After reviewing Neil Parry's nomination, it was obvious that he was not only the winner of the New Orleans Bowl Inspirational Award but also a winner in the game of life," said awards committee representative Tristan Manthey. "Mr. Parry's perseverance and motto to 'Never Give Up (N.G.U.)' are qualities we should all strive to achieve."
Parry, a junior safety from Sonora, Calif., was selected by the New Orleans Bowl Awards Committee for his incredible perseverance through hardship.
"Anytime somebody recognizes what I've done is an achievement," said Parry. "To be selected for this award is pretty awesome. There are a number of people, my family, friends, teammates, coaches, trainers and doctors, who have given me an incredible amount of support the last two years.
With all the support they have given me, I try to offer the same to people who feel I can be of help to them."
Parry walked on to the San Jose State University football team in the fall of 1999 not knowing if he would make the team.
He not only made the team, he was asked to play as a true freshman. After a successful rookie season and a good start to his sophomore season, Parry's life was about to change.
On Oct. 14, 2000 in the third quarter against conference foe UTEP, Parry was chasing down a kick returner on special teams when another player was knocked down into the front of his right leg. The result - a compound fracture of the tibia and fibula that broke through the skin. Initial reports indicated that Parry would be out of the hospital in 2-3 days with a rod in his leg.
Things changed three days later when Parry developed a deadly temperature of 105 degrees.
Instead of worrying about his leg, Parry now worried for his life. On Oct. 23, nine days after the injury, doctors informed Parry that they were going to have to amputate his injured leg.
Parry consented to the surgery and was released from Stanford Medical Center a month later. In a press conference at Spartan Stadium, Parry announced that he was determined to play NCAA Division IA football again.
Parry's motto, N.G.U. - Never Give Up, has kept him motivated to achieve the goal of playing again. He has had 22 surgeries and gone through numerous prosthetics to get closer to a return to the playing field over the past two seasons.
Parry works out regularly with the Spartans and participates in the team's strength and conditioning program.
His return was almost derailed in August 2002 when the NCAA's catastrophic insurance carrier, Mutual of Omaha, ruled that it would no longer cover any related medical expenses if he played again.
Parry appealed the decision, receiving a great deal of public sentiment and establishing a precedent for future student-athletes.
"Neil is an inspiration to his teammates, coaches and me," said San Jose State head coach Dr. Fitz Hill in his nomination of Parry. "There is no doubt in my mind that he is going to play again. I know our mind controls our bodies and his mind is definitely a controlling factor."
Parry will be in New Orleans on Dec. 16 to accept his award at the New Orleans Bowl Players Luncheon at the Sheraton on Canal Street.
Former NFL quarterback and current ESPN analyst Joe Theismann will be the keynote speaker at the Players Luncheon.
Tickets for the Players Luncheon are $35 and available through the Greater New Orleans Sports Foundation at 504-525-5678.