Cory Wilson, Georgia
He was 6 pounds 15 ounces of sweet perfection. He was all things good, and I loved him fiercely from the day he was born until the day he died on January 17th, 2013. His death has ripped our lives into pieces and tested every ounce of our strength we have. Our days blend into nights and into days again. Things that once seemed so important are now barely noticed, and often it is a zombie-like existence moving through our lives without him.
It has been 537 days since our son, Cory Joseph Wilson, collapsed and died in his classroom at Georgia Southern University. Though young, strong, and healthy, Cory was the victim of a fatal cardiac arrhythmia. A proud brother of the Kappa Alpha Order of Fraternities, he loved spending time with his friends, his family and his Liv. He embodied life, and his personality and his talent for telling stories drew people of all ages to his side. Ironically the very people he touched have made the difference in our quest for survival since Cory’s death.
When Cory collapsed, there was no automated external defibrillator (AED) nearby. Cardio pulmonary resuscitation (CPR) was started by a classmate, the one person in the class that did know CPR. However CPR was delayed because Cory's symptoms were not immediately recognized as cardiac. Though campus police were on the scene, they did not bring their AED inside. It was not until EMS arrived that the opportunity for AED assistance was made available to Cory. The delay in the chain of survival cost possible life saving minutes and CPR was simply not enough to sustain Cory’s life. Doctors have said it is possible that the automated external defibrillator could have saved Cory’s life. Possible. That one word is like a kick in the gut, a breath stealing, heart wrenching, bile producing painful kick that threatens to rob us of any joy…but letting that happen would be a disservice to Cory. His mantra to Live, Laugh, and Love drives us to hold on to those who hold us, lean on those beside us and move forward to hopefully make life better for someone else.
In Cory’s memory, many strides have been made to educate others about CPR and using AEDs. Several businesses and churches have installed AEDs and implemented emergency plans, over 1500 people have received Hands Only CPR and AED education, $20,000 was raised by the Cory Joseph Wilson First Annual Memorial Baseball Tournament (this purchased AEDs for local recreational facilities and assisted with funding the Cory Joseph Wilson Memorial Scholarship at GSU), a second scholarship was established by the Delta Theta Chapter at GSU, and over 140 AEDS have now been placed on the Georgia Southern Campus, including one in the Kappa Alpha house. Prior to Cory’s death, he had talked about getting his fraternity brothers to learn CPR. When the AED was mounted in the house, the KA boys all received a brief in-service on Hands Only CPR and how to use their AED. Finally, the school where I work, White Bluff Elementary, is the only school in our county to have every staff member trained in Hands Only CPR and AED usage. We are also Chatham County’s only Project S.A.V.E. School.
In October Cory’s story was featured in Memorial’s THE BEAT physician newsletter and continues to be told locally and statewide. Governor Deal recently had the opportunity to hear Cory’s story as well. Cory’s crooked smile has radiated from computer screens, newspaper articles and even TV as his story has slowly moved from one place to another. We have been deeply touched by the tremendous show of support shown to our family. Though difficult without him here, our goal is to live life as Cory did, touching lives wherever we can and embracing every day. As a family, Kenny, Morgan and I are moving forward with the message that CPR and AEDs can save lives. We encourage you to learn CPR and how to use an AED. You can learn the basics in minutes by watching an online video or learn the complete process by signing up for a local class or taking one online. Whatever you decide, just do something.
It’s possible the person you save could be someone you love… and in this case, possible is a good thing.
- Written by Lisa Wilson, 7/8/14