College Sports

GoFundMe funds grow for paralyzed Cal Bears rugby player

In this photo taken Feb. 18, 2017, University of California, Berkeley rugby player Robert Paylor plays in a game against the University of British Columbia in Berkeley.
In this photo taken Feb. 18, 2017, University of California, Berkeley rugby player Robert Paylor plays in a game against the University of British Columbia in Berkeley. AP

The outpouring of support for paralyzed Cal Bears rugby player and former Jesuit High School student Robert Paylor has resulted in more than $230,000 toward his rehabilitation.

A GoFundMe page for the rugby player from El Dorado Hills had grown to $238,000 on Wednesday. The money came from teammates, former classmates at Jesuit High School, UC Berkeley alums, the relatives of paralysis patients and others touched by Paylor’s story.

Paylor was injured Saturday during the Bears' national championship win over Arkansas State. The injury left him paralyzed below his chest, according to his family.

On the GoFundMe page set up for him the 6-foot-5, 233-pound Paylor, donations from 1,350 people ranged from $15 to anonymous donations of $10,000. Comments include one from a Cal Bears teammate George Salter:

“You’re a champ Rob. You’re in my thoughts and prayers every day. You're the best teammate a bloke could ask for and we’re going to return the favour by being there for you every step along this journey. Stay strong brother.”

The Dana and Christopher Reeve Foundation notes that the first year of medical expenses for patients with high tetraplegia costs just more than $1 million. Tetraplegia, also known as quadriplegia, is paralysis that results in the partial or total loss of use of all four limbs and torso, while paraplegia does not affect the arms.

GoFundMe organizer and Paylor family friend Jennifer Douglas said that donations have come not only from the United States, but also from rugby enthusiasts in New Zealand, England and Australia.

“While his healing journey has just begun, there will be so many more needs in the near future and long term,” said Douglas in an e-mail. “The Paylors’ home will need to be retrofitted, a vehicle will need to be purchased for Robert’s transportation and so much more. Any assistance from this wonderful community will be greatly appreciated.”

A post on the Jesuit High School Facebook page earlier this week noted that Paylor was being treated in the intensive care unit of the Santa Clara Valley Medical Center and that it was too early to determine the lasting extent of his injuries.

Once stable, according to the post, Paylor would be moved to the rehabilitation wing of the hospital. Meanwhile, the high school will be praying for the 2015 graduate of the Carmichael school.

Jesuit High School students, athletes, alumni and staff are invited to attend a Mass to be celebrated at 8:30 a.m. Friday in the Phelan Chapel on campus.

“This mass will offer an opportunity for our JHS community to come together and to pray for Robert Paylor ’15 and his recovery,” according to the notice on the school Facebook page.

Bill Lindelof: 916-321-1079, @Lindelofnews

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