By Melissa Boyd and Lamesha Green (Whetstone Staff Writers)
The tragic condition of the son of a Wesley College football coach has inspired students to try to help.
Benjamin Knapp, the son of Wesley football coach Chip Knapp, suffered cardiac arrest during the early morning Oct. 22 while he was sleeping.
The football team had been traveling to Ohio, where some of his family lives. Chip Knapp brought his son to visit them. The Knapps and assistant athletic director Steve Azzanesi shared a room in the hotel that night.
Coach Knapp told the Wilmington News Journal that his son had been sleeping and then started to make strange noises. He kept fidgeting. The coach then awakened Azzanesi, who had previously been a lifeguard. Azzanesi performed CPR until paramedics arrived at the hotel after repeated attempts to wake Ben up failed.
Ben, 16, remains in an intensive care unit, in a coma, where he reportedly has a slight swelling of his brain, but no hemorrhaging.
The Wesley College community has responded.
Student Life and other organizations raised money for the Knapp family. Coach Mike Drass sold wristbands at Wolverines football games for $5; all proceeds have gone to the Knapp family.
Previous president of Black Student Union, Keeyana Talley, came up with the idea to help by purchasing and selling pins. Current vice president Kyle Pequeno said the organization has raised more than $200.
“I didn’t know Ben,” Pequeno said, “But hearing what he and his family went through and are currently going through was enough to make me want to help out.”
Talley designed the pins, while Pequeno bought them through the Student Life office.
“For a total of 250 pins, we spent about $150,” Pequeno said. “But we made profit from that, and all of it goes to their family.”
Football players said the tragedy has inspired their play.
“It brought us to play stronger and harder,” said junior Devar Robinson.
Junior Brian Snail agreed.
“Ben also gave us something to play for,” he said. “Now the Wesley football team is playing for something bigger than the Stagg bowl.”
Junior Brandon Wright said he was also affected.
“When it first happened, it hit us all hard,” he said. “It was very emotional and no longer was about getting a win. This really hit me hard because this was the game I got hurt in. So I was upset that I was hurt and couldn’t keep playing for Ben.”