BY EARNEST WINSTON
The Cincinnati Enquirer
COVINGTON -- Adam Collinsworth was preparing to enter his junior year at Thomas More College when he broke his neck last month in a diving accident. Paralyzed from the neck down, the 20-year-old Thomas More football player is recovering at the Drake Center, a long-term rehabilitation center in Hartwell.
Although doctors cleared him to attend a fund-raiser held in his honor Sunday, his parents, Diane and Edgar, decided against it. About 2,000 people attended the event at The Waterfront restaurant.
"I can't believe that so many people would come out to support Adam," said Mrs. Collinsworth, who has bone cancer and uses a wheelchair. She said it could be another three months before he returns home.
All proceeds from the fund-raiser will go to the Adam Collinsworth Fund. Donations can be made at any Star Bank branch. The money will come in handy for the Taylor Mill family.
Mrs. Collinsworth has been told she has only a few years to live. Mr. Collinsworth worked for a company for 15 years but was let go because he missed too many days tending to his wife. A surgery his wife had in Boston required that he spend a lot of time with her.
Among those in attendance Sunday were friends, classmates, teammates and many who did not know Adam Collinsworth. Several local athletes were also expected to attend.
Dawn Taylor and David Martin, both registered nurses at University Hospital, cared for him during his stay there.
"He was in our unit for three weeks, and you get attached," said Ms. Taylor, explaining why she and Mr. Martin supported the fund-raiser.
Said football teammate Shane Bolin: "As a teammate, he's like a brother to us. We are trying to keep him and his family in our prayers." Even before the Sunday's fund-raiser, support came pouring in from all corners.
The head chef at The Waterfront, who will undergo back surgery in the coming days, has agreed to donate a week's pay to help Adam. Other colleagues at The Waterfront, where Mr. Collinsworth worked as a busboy, have donated about $3,000 in tips, said his brother, Neal, a server at the riverfront restaurant.
"We have more people than we had for the (Riverfest) fireworks," said Jeff Ruby, president of Waterfront Associates Inc., which owns The Waterfront. Mr. Ruby organized the fund-raiser.
Mr. Ruby said he wrote letters to more than 400 friends Tuesday, asking for their support. On Saturday, a friend and his brother, both of Los Angeles, called and said each would send checks for $5,000. The checks arrived Sunday. Other friends have also donated thousands of dollars.
Items auctioned off Sunday included the following autographed memorabilia: a basketball autographed by University of Kentucky men's basketball coach Tubby Smith; footballs signed by UK quarterback Tim Couch, Bengals players Neil O'Donnell, Corey Dillon, Jeff Blake, Ki-Jana Carter and former Bengal Boomer Esiason; bats signed by Mark McGwire and Mike Piazza; baseballs signed by Pete Rose and Ken Griffey Jr. and Sr.; a basketball signed by Bob Huggins; footballs signed by Anthony Munoz; and bats signed by Ken Griffey Jr. and Sammy Sosa.
Although Adam Collinsworth is no relation to former Bengal Cris Collinsworth, the later sent an autographed Fox Sports hat, helmet and football card for Sunday's auction.
"It's amazing," his brother, Neal, said.