New Castle News


September 15, 2012

‘God was watching over him’: Derrick Burns is finding a way to adjust to life without football



New Pitt football coach Paul Chryst raced to check on his player in the hospital. Derrick, who helped lead the Wilmington football team to the PIAA Class AA championship his junior season, was a big part of Chryst’s plans for 2012 and was competing for the starting fullback position.

“He walked in and Derrick said, ‘Coach, I think I’m done with football,’ ” Dan said. “We all sort of chuckled at how he just blurted that out. Coach Chryst was a total class act, telling him he just needed to get better, and that we could worry about the other stuff later.”

Although his condition remained serious, it was the first time that Derrick had said the words aloud that his playing career might be over.

As Dan, Julie and Daniel accompanied Mariah to the PIAA Track and Field Championships in Shippensburg that weekend, Cindy remained at Derrick’s bedside. And as she said, “I watched a miracle happen.

“On Thursday, two days after the stroke, he was scheduled to begin therapy, but by Friday, they said maybe not. On Saturday, they said he didn’t need therapy at all.”

In fact, four days after his stroke, the clot on Derrick’s brain was gone.

“They kept looking and looking and it just wasn’t there,” Cindy said, her eyes full of tears. “God was watching over him.”

Derrick’s paralysis had disappeared almost overnight and, even though they were told he never would play football again because of the clotting medications he has to take for the rest of his life, the Burns family was celebrating.


Derrick’s troubles were not over, however. The night he returned home, he went to sleep on the living room couch and Cindy decided to keep an eye on him from another couch across the room.

“I woke up at 3 o’clock in the morning and Derrick was staring into space,” Cindy said. “I asked him what he was looking at and he said nothing, that he was OK, but I knew that he wasn’t.”

Cindy could see that Derrick was having mild tremors and he admitted that his headache had returned. He was rushed back to Horizon, then returned by ambulance to Presbyterian, where he spent the next four days.

His medication, which inadvertently had been changed when he was released, was adjusted, and he was able to return home when his condition stabilized again.

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