Tulane University’s Devon Walker to Receive 2013 Disney Spirit Award
The award is given annually by Disney Sports to college football’s most inspirational figure. After suffering his injury, Walker has become a motivational figure for his team, the university, and the New Orleans community.
Walker’s football career started at Tulane in 2009 as a walk-on. He earned a scholarship and became the starting safety and team captain for the 2012 season. In the second game of the season against Tulsa, he collided with a teammate and injured his C3 and C4 vertebrae, which left him paralyzed from the neck down.
A year after the injury Walker returned to class and to the sidelines of the football field where he can be found supporting his team. He is close to earning his degree in cell and molecular biology. Walker continues his rehabilitation and also continues to attend team meetings, practices, and all Tulane home football games.
“Devon’s positive outlook and determination to remain an integral figure within the Tulane football program embodies the true essence of the Disney Spirit Award,” said Faron Kelley, director of sports marketing for Disney Sports. “We salute his courage, resilience and perseverance, and wish him every success in life.”
The Tulane team continues to honor Walker by adorning their helmets with a sticker featuring his jersey No. 18 and no active player wears that number on their jersey. Before each game a Tulane player is designated to run on the field waving a No. 18 flag before the rest of the team takes the field. Walker also gives a pre-game speech each week.
“Winning the Disney Spirit Award gives me a renewed sense of purpose to continue on my path toward recovery and, in doing so, provide inspiration to others to never give up,” said Walker, 22. “I have a fantastic support system in my family, friends, teammates, coaches, university staff, and others from around the country who constantly encourage me to keep fighting. Returning to campus and my team this fall has allowed me to regain a sense of normalcy and has given me hope for a full and successful life.”
Faron Kelley, director of sports marketing for Disney Sports and last year’s Disney Spirit Award recipient, University of Texas player Nate Boyer, will present Walker with the award during The Home Depot College Football Awards at the Walt Disney World Resort on December 12. The show is hosted by ESPN’s Chris Fowler, Lee Corso, Kirk Herbstreit, Desmond Howard, and Samantha Ponder, airs at 7 p.m.