“To all the donors, you don’t know how much your support means to everybody. It helps. It really does. Look at me, I’m a survivor,” ESPN broadcaster and sports analyst Lee Corso told the audience at the Houston Aphasia Recovery Center’s (HARC) sold-out “Let’s Talk” charity luncheon.
Having suffered a stroke in 2009, the 81-year-old College GameDay co-host flew into town for the day to support the local nonprofit, a therapeutic wellness center for persons with aphasia, the loss of the ability to understand or express speech caused by brain damage.
Serving as guest speaker, an emotional Corso opened up about the traumatic event, telling the 420 guests in attendance, “With no warning signs or any indication that I was ill, on May 9, 2009, at 8:30 in the morning, I walked out to get the newspaper. When I came back, my wife looked at me…. and started to cry. My face was distorted.”
With the stroke, Corso temporarily lost the ability to speak as well as partial use of his right arm and leg. “I don’t care how long (after) it is or what you do, once you have a stroke you’ll never be the same. So I’ve adjusted.”
Thanks to occupational speech and physical therapy, Corso successfully returned to ESPN in 2009. “That May (after suffering the stroke), I set a goal that in three months I would be back on national television. And I did it.”
Corso went on to share some of the lessons he’s learned about life. “First of all, in building a team, any kind of team, you win with character. Not with characters. There’s a hell of a difference. Surround yourself with good people.
And (what’s) the true test of character? It’s not how you treat people you can use, but how you treat people you can’t use. But our greatest glory in this life consists not in never falling, but in rising every time you fall.”
Corso also spoke about the importance of family. “I've learned that 95 percent of your true friends live under the same roof as you. You can’t be too nice, or love your spouse too much. You can’t love your kids too much. Do everything you can for your family. That’s all you’ve got.”
But Corso, one of college football's most entertaining analysts, wasn’t without a few jokes up his sleeve. He had the crowd in stitches as he told a story about his college roommate at Florida State University, actor Burt Reynolds. “The guy was so good looking, I used to send him out as bait. Let me tell you, with his looks and my car, we killed it!”
The luncheon was led by chairs Emily Burguiéres Dalicandro and Emily Conner Hempel, along with honorary chairs Mary Kay and Gilbert Gaedcke, and Elaine and Fella Knight, Jr. Drew Dougherty, host of Texans TV, was event emcee.
Guests included Annette and George Strake, Ann Singleton, Diana Mattingly, Janita Griggs, Eleni Christou Franklin, Rose Carrabba, Emily Crosswell, Fella and Elaine Knight, Mary Kay and Gilbert Gaedcke, Rose Cullen, Mary Angela Broughton, Scott and Melissa Ison.