This week, we will share amazing comeback stories featuring student athletes across the state. These college and high school athletes have overcome injury or illness. WTHR is partnering with Methodist Sports Medicine for the Brady Sports Achievement Awards.
C.P. Porter is taking his final six classes to graduate from Wabash College in May. In a Thursday afternoon “Adventures in Physics” class, the experiment challenges lab groups to keep the heat in a hot brick. Porter’s group wrapped their brick in a makeshift blanket of insulation covered with aluminum foil, then wrapped inside a heavy winter coat and placed inside a large cooler. Porter’s group won, earning extra credit for class, another victory as he wraps up his time in Crawfordsville.
Porter’s given name is Cahmelan, but guys on the all-male campus know him as C.P., a running back out of Indianapolis Ben Davis High School on the Little Giants football team. Porter’s football career is over now, but ended on his terms.
In the fall of 2012, Porter suffered a serious hip injury when a defender fell on him as he tried to recover his own fumble in a game against Wooster.
"The ball part of my hip that sits in the joint,” explained Porter, “when my knee drove up it punctured out the back and broke a piece of the socket that holds it in, and the head part split in half."
"The head of his femur just went straight up through his socket," said Wabash athletic trainer Mark Elizondo. “So it was dislocated, but it was fractured as well. It was mess."
Doctors used 15 screws and a metal plate to rebuild Porter’s hip. They told him his football career was over.
“They actually told me that I'd probably have a hard time walking without a limp,” recalled Porter.
But Porter refused to accept the diagnosis and went to work in rehabilitation as soon as possible.
"Before he was able to even get out the wheelchair,” said Elizondo, “they were saying, 'Poor guy!' But he persevered and it was amazing to see him go through all those steps."
“I’m always up for a challenge,” said Porter. “It was a lot of daily dedication. There were days when I was sore and didn’t want to get out of bed.”
Porter’s comeback inspired his teammates as they prepared for the 2013 season.
"He made a huge impact just on the players seeing his determination and his work ethic,” said Wabash football head coach Erik Raeburn. “I think that motivated everybody to push themselves harder."
Less than a year after his devastating injury, Porter returned to action in the closing minutes of a blowout win against Hanover in the 2013 season opener.
“I was really nervous to have him out there,” said Raeburn with a sigh.
"The crowd, the team, you could a hear pin drop,” Elizondo recalled. “Everyone was holding their breath. He just punched it through. It was awesome."
Porter broke a big run on his first carry and scored a touchdown a few plays later.
“It was one of the largest cheers I've ever heard on our sideline,” said Raeburn. “You'd have thought he just scored the touchdown in the national championship game."
Porter went on to carry the ball 50 times last season and played in nine games.
"I was able to overcome something a lot of other people thought I couldn't,” said Porter. “Just to be able to do that, I think that really solidified for me determination."
About a year ago, Porter used grant money to start his own clothing company, Kite & Key Co, inspired by Benjamin Franklin. Several of his college apparel designs were purchased by the campus bookstore and include the school motto: “Wabash Always Fights”.
"When we're down, we're going to keep fighting,” said Porter. “It's not just in terms of athletic competition. It's in all aspects of life. I really hold that to my heart. That's a big part of who I am and the character I've become is because of this school."
Porter’s fight inspired an entire campus where he proudly walks without a limp.
The Brady Sports Achievement Awards program is Thursday night at the Indiana Roof Ballroom. The event starts at 7:00 pm. For ticket information, call 817-1258.