Student who is mascot shares story about accident, recovery

October 27, 2014 | Features, UTMC
By Amanda Benjamin

The mascot code stipulates that his or her real identity is to remain a secret. That means when one of UT’s mascots, a certain Rocky, experienced a horrific car accident, that, too, must be kept quiet.

rocky-recoveryBut Rocky wanted to share his story of great recovery and how this second chance has changed his life. Throughout the article, he will be referred to as Rocky to protect his real identity, thereby honoring the mascot code.

“I basically turned the car into a convertible with me in it,” Rocky said, describing the accident that led to his brief stay at The University of Toledo Medical Center two years ago.

Rocky said he suffered a head injury and broke the right side of his face. He also had a spinal cord injury and sustained a grade 3 concussion, causing memory loss. Fortunately, Rocky did not have to go through surgery or physical therapy.

“A number of specialists were called in because most of his injuries were head and neck,” said Dr. Jeremy Stoller, a trauma resident at UT Medical Center, who was part of the medical team on Rocky’s case. “We watched him closely to make sure his condition wasn’t worsening. He was actually very lucky. While he had serious injuries, he could have been hurt a lot worse.”

“I was supposed to get worse, but I didn’t,” Rocky said.

Instead, he got better and better as the days went on. Rocky was out of the hospital after a week and a half; he did not sustain any physical repercussions from his injuries.

Rocky said he feels very fortunate to have made such a great recovery, and he will never forget what he learned from the experience.

“I realize that without the great care I received at The University of Toledo Medical Center, I may not be here today. I’m very grateful. I’ve been given the gift of a new life,” Rocky said. “It gave me the determination to do better and excel more in general.”

One area in which he chose to excel was being a UT mascot. Three months after the accident, he donned the Rocky costume and began getting UT fans pumped up by doing flips and pushups and walking on his hands.

He said he enjoys being Rocky because he makes people smile and it fits his personality well.

“It’s probably the best job on the planet,” Rocky said. “You get to be a goof for hours on end.”

The accident gave Rocky a new perspective on life. He said he wants to use his second chance to live a fuller life and not dwell on the small things.

“The advice I want to share with everyone is to enjoy the life you have,” he said. “It’s very short and can be taken away from you at any time.”

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