Little Help For A Friend

1 decade 1 year 5 months ago Monday, September 03 2007 Sep 3, 2007 Monday, September 03, 2007 12:17:26 AM CDT September 03, 2007 in Sports

Sam Russell might be the first person to know Carl Edwards would make it in Nascar. As little kids, they used to race bikes and Russell said Edwards could make anything with wheels on it go faster than everybody else.

Carl Edwards called his win in Bristol the greatest in his racing career and his first thoughts in the postgame interview were about his lifelong friend Sam Russell.

"To me he's just Carl. You see him on TV and on stuff and I just have to chuckle," said Carl Edward's friend Sam Russell.

Just like Carl, Sam also loves wheels. Only he prefers two; he is a mountain biker who works for the bicycle company Trek.

"He's the most positive person. He's always been that way so to see how that really is shining through lately through this adversity is amazing," said Edwards.

Amazing and overwhelming, about two months ago Sam's life changed forever.

"I lost control of the bike and I hit head-on into a tree and landed. When I hit I thought that it didn't hurt that bad and then when I landed I couldn't move my arms, I couldn't feel anything," Russell said.

Feeling came back to his arms, but he's a T-9 complete parapalegic at the age of 28.

"His surgeon told him that anyone who hit a tree as hard as he hit it would not have been alive if it wasn't for that helmet, and that was the second that I knew a helmet had saved my child and I was all about helmets and how they fit," said Russell's mother Nancy Russell.

Sam's mom Nancy coordinated a benefit event to help her son and Carl drew the crowd.

"The biggest thing that makes you feel good is how many folks showed up to help Sam. He's an awesome guy. He's an inspiration to everyone and for this many people to come out and help him at a time when he really needs the help is cool," Edwards said.

"It's kind of setting in that I'm not going to walk again. It's hard, but it's easier," Russell said.

The event included an auction and a chance to bike with Edwards. Kristy Richards drove from Minnesota to spin her wheels with Carl, an 850 mile trip.

"I had a girlfriend say to me one time if I would rather meet Carl Edwards or Oprah, and I said Oprah because I know I'm going to meet Carl someday," Richards said.

But on this day it's not just Carl everyone wants to meet.

"I didn't know I had so many friends. I didn't know how many people loved Sam and loved our family. It's just been overwhelming," Nancy Russell said.

"Whenever I get down, I just think I'm glad I'm here," Russell said.

The event raised $20,000 to help Sam. He plans on going back to work at Trek in Wisconsin.

If you would like to donate to Sam's family, visit samdrussell.com.

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