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December 22, 2014

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$8,000 raised for injured high school athlete

Green Valley High defensive back regaining movement after being paralyzed

Fighting Back

Green Valley defensive back LaQuan Phillips was left temporarily paralyzed after making a tackle in last Friday's game against Centennial. One week later, he's already showing that he's stronger and more determined than ever.

Hoping for a full recovery

Green Valley High defensive back LaQuan Phillips recovers in the Trauma Intensive Care Unit at Sunrise Hospital after suffering a bruised spine during a football game against Centennial last Friday. Launch slideshow »

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Henderson teenagers and community members have raised more than $8,000 to help their classmate and peer, Green Valley High defensive back LaQuan Phillips, who was injured on the field Sept. 5. The fundraising efforts are continuing.

Phillips, who initially was paralyzed but has been regaining some movement, has plans for the money beyond his own immediate needs.

Speaking from the Shriners Hospital for Children in Sacramento, Calif., where he is receiving treatment, Phillips said he plans to start the LaQuan Phillips Foundation to help other children and teenagers in his situation.

“We’ll be able to take care of those other people’s struggles,” Phillips said, noting the need for modifications such as ramps in the homes of permanently paralyzed children.

Matt Gerber, Green Valley’s football coach, said he wasn’t surprised to learn of Phillips’ intentions.

“LaQuan’s a special kid,” he said. “He has a big heart and he always puts it in the right place.

“Sometimes when things happen in life like this, you really learn a lot about a person. And LaQuan has taught me so much. I can’t imagine having the outlook he does. He’s so positive, he knows he’s going to get through this. He’s really been building all of us up and it’s been an amazing thing to see.”

Green Valley fans continued to show their support of the senior, buying out $750 worth of specially made Gator towels Friday night during Green Valley’s victory over Foothill.

Phillips said he expects to make a full recovery, but noted that not everyone in similar situations has such a bright outlook.

“It would be a chance to help those who aren’t as fortunate as me,” he said.

The care he receives at Shriners Hospital is free, Phillips said, but there will still be expenses for his family members who are with him in Sacramento. Phillips underwent surgery Sept. 7 in Las Vegas to alleviate swelling on his vertebrae. He flew Sept. 16 to Shriners.

So far, several schools have held miracle minutes, asking students to donate whatever they can during a specific time. Green Valley held a special three-minute session in honor of Phillips’ No. 3 jersey, and raised a whopping $5,300.

“It really shows what kids are made of,” Green Valley principal Jeff Horn said of the donations from other Las Vegas Valley high schools. “The rivalries are put aside and people realize that it could be anyone. It’s pretty special that all the different schools are pitching in.”

When Phillips heard students from other schools were trying to help out, he was equally impressed.

He saw video of a miracle minute fundraiser being conducted at Barbara and Hank Greenspun Junior High.

“I couldn’t be there, obviously, but I saw it on camera and thought it was amazing,” he said.

More fundraisers are planned at individual schools to benefit LaQuan’s family and, ultimately, his foundation.

In addition, a car wash will be held to support LaQuan at Saturn of Henderson, 310 N. Gibson Road, at 10 a.m. Oct. 4. Tickets for the car wash will be sold at the UNLV tailgate parties Sept. 20 and Sept. 27 at the Saturn of Henderson booth, or call Natalie Mazzullo at 799-1010 Ext. 5332.

Frances Vanderploeg can be reached at 990-2660 or [email protected]. Las Vegas Sun reporter Andy Samuelson contributed to this story.

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