Kent Waldrep, athlete whose injury led to advocacy, dies at 67

In 1982, as his fame grew in disability circles for traveling to the Soviet Union and returning to Texas to start the short-lived Interna...


In 1982, as his fame grew in disability circles for traveling to the Soviet Union and returning to Texas to start the short-lived International Spinal Cord Research Foundation, he was appointed to the National Council of the Disabled by the President Ronald Reagan. Mr. Waldrep eventually became vice chairman of the council, a federal agency that evaluates laws and programs affecting people with disabilities. (It was renamed the National Disability Council in 1988.)

Robert L. Burgdorf Jr., a disability rights expert who was the council’s attorney, recalled Mr. Waldrep’s assistance in reviewing and suggesting changes to the draft of what became the Americans With Disabilities Act of 1990. He said in an email that it was Mr Waldrep who named the legislation in a note from 1985 in which he suggested that “any new legislation be grouped under a title such as ‘The Americans with Disabilities Act of 1986’.”

“In this way,” Mr. Waldrep wrote, “I believe the recommended legislative changes can be marketed much more effectively.”

Alvis Kent Waldrep Jr. was born on March 2, 1954 in Austin, Texas. His father was a banker. His mother was a housewife who later worked at an aircraft repair station owned by her husband.

Kent was an all-district and all-county running back at high school in Alvin, Texas, and received a TCU scholarship. He was a reserve in 1973, and while he had started the first game of the 1974 season, he had just recovered. of a bruised sternum before the Horned Frogs traveled to Birmingham to play in Alabama.

For years after the game he thought about what he could have done to avoid being injured.

“I used to think, why didn’t I cut inside sooner?” he told the Fort Worth Star-Telegram in 1989. “Why didn’t I reverse the field?” He added: “There’s no way to rationalize it. You can drive yourself crazy if you dwell on it.

He established the Kent Waldrep National Paralysis Foundation in 1985, and in 1994 he and the University of Texas Southwestern Medical Center at Dallas established the Kent Waldrep Foundation Center for Basic Research on Nerve Growth and Regeneration. It was endowed with more than $10 million raised by Mr. Waldrep’s foundation, mostly through an annual black-tie dinner.

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Newsrust - US Top News: Kent Waldrep, athlete whose injury led to advocacy, dies at 67
Kent Waldrep, athlete whose injury led to advocacy, dies at 67
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